An update on the special session

The 2012 regular legislative session ended March 8, but unfortunately the Legislature was not able to accomplish its primary task of passing a balanced budget. On day 54 of the 60-day session, the Senate still had not voted on a plan to fill the state’s $1.1 billion budget hole. While the House majority had passed its budget plan, the Senate Ways and Means Committee chairman’s plan did not have enough votes to get out of the committee. Until each chamber has put forth a budget to start negotiations, the Legislature can’t move forward.

This logjam was broken on March 3 – the 54th day – by a bipartisan coalition of senators who passed a 2012 supplemental budget that:

  • spends within our means and is sustainable;
  • is tied to reforms that will produce long-term savings;
  • uses no new taxes; and
  • does not rely on gimmicks.

Floor speechSadly, the House majority chose not to negotiate with the Senate after they sent us another budget plan on the last day. It would have created a $2 billion deficit in the next budget cycle and continued to push the school apportionment payment ($330 million) into the next biennium.

Entering a special session to finish the budget work is not ideal. I would have liked to see the Legislature more focused on the budget the first weeks of session, which would not have put us into overtime. But if we are able to achieve a sustainable budget that includes reforms, leaves a reasonable amount in savings and does not spend more money than we have, then I believe taxpayers win and it will have been worth it.