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Can the Lege pass a budget?

Robert Miller:

[T]here is a growing chasm between the House and the Senate on the budget. The Governor and House leadership have agreed to spend $3.2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to balance the FY 2010-11 budget. But, the Governor and House leadership have stated that they will not spend anything from the Rainy Day Fund for the FY 2012-13 budget, nor will the House pass any tax revenue increases. This will result in a House budget for FY 2012-13 of approximately $77 billion of general revenue spending. The FY 2010-11 budget was approximately $87 billion of general revenue spending, including federal stimulus funds of $6.4 billion.

The votes are not there in the Senate Finance Committee to pass a $77 billion budget, much less in the Senate itself. To pass the Senate in Regular Session, the budget will probably need to be at least $83 billion in general revenue. In other words, the Senate is looking to spend at least $6 billion more than the House. If the House says no more Rainy Day Funds and no additional tax revenue, it is going to be very difficult to find the additional money. At this point, you would have to say one or more special sessions is a growing possibility.

Burka makes the point that some Senate Republicans don’t like the budget, either. What happens if no budget gets passed, besides the obvious special session(s), is anyone’s guess. Politically, the Republicans are probably best served by coming up with a budget that allows them to say they cut expenses but did as much as they could to spare public education as quickly as possible, but if that were easy to do they’d have done it by now. Democrats just need to make sure they make the Republicans own all the cuts they do wind up making. The longer things go, the messier it all gets. We’ll have a much better idea how it will go on Thursday when the Senate Finance Committee begins markup of the budget bill.

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