Unfortunately there has still not been a budget agreement between the Speaker of the House, the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate and the
Governor. It seemed that an agreement might be reached on Wednesday of last week, but negotiations broke down at the last minute.
Presently it is reported that there are two main points of disagreements remaining. These are higher education funding and the start date of the employee pay raise. However, there has been a constant flux of disagreement that the Senate has with both the Republican Speaker and the Democratic Governor.
Both of these men have been able to come to an agreement on the budget and are now trying to placate the Senate. The Senate is demanding $130 million for higher education even though the Regents of Higher Education only asked for $123 million of new money. Three month of intense negotiations by the Senate has resulted in them adding 7 million to their top number.
I'm not sure that the Senate leaders understand that negotiation means moving toward the other person's amount, not away from that figure. Another problem is the unavailability of the Senate leaders to negotiate. While the
Speaker has been available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to negotiate, the Senate leaders have been out of state much of the time.
Two letters to the editors by Senate leaders in the Daily Oklahoman seemed to insinuate that the Speaker needed to hire an economist to help him.
Actually, the House already has a staff of expert fiscal analysts that have been working on the budget for years. They also have a top notch staff attorney that attends the negotiations. The Senate has a similar staff also that helps with all the negotiations.
Both men who wrote these letters know that fact and why they would misinform the public I leave to draw your own conclusions. The fact remains that the Speaker and the Governor have been able to put party differences aside and do the business of the state. The Senate leaders need to do the same.
It is imperative that a budget agreement be reached soon. This fiscal year ends on June 30th. If the Senate is unable or unwilling to do its job by that date, then the House will come and pass an emergency “maintenance of effort” budget that will allow the state to still function.
However, there are still budget matters that must be resolved in the special session. This includes COLA's for retirees, raises for state and education personnel. and other monetary bills. The Special Session is running right now. The House will go into the chambers either next week or the last week in June to do the business of the state, even if the Senate still refuses to do so.
Boise City News