Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Senate's budget plan passes as special session appears likely

The Senate passed an amended House operating budget Monday that makes deeper cuts in state funding for higher education and partially offsets them with even steeper tuition hikes than those included in the budget passed by the House.
The higher education sections of the Senate version of ESHB 1087 were unchanged from the Senate Ways & Means Committee Chair’s proposed budget released last week. The HECB Legislative Report previously posted a summary of the Senate proposal that includes comparisons with the House version.
Details of the budget versions passed in the House and Senate are also available on the Legislative Evaluation & Accountability Program Committee website.
The Senate and House will now work to reconcile the differing versions of ESHB 1087 to produce a final state operating budget for the 2011-13 biennium and for the remainder of the 2009-11 biennium.  The Legislature also will have to consider any separate legislation necessary to implement the budget.
It appears increasingly likely the remaining work will not be finished by the time the regular legislative session ends Sunday. That makes it likely the Governor will have to call a special session to complete the work. The Governor’s options include: 
  • Calling the special session immediately after the regular session ends;
  • Waiting a few days to give legislators more time to make progress; or
  • Deferring a special session until an agreement is reached on the budget and related bills.

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