Where Are We With the Budget Stalemate?
It's 9:30 p.m. Do you know where your state legislator is? I know those lawmakers can be slippery, but thankfully all are about to convene under one roof at 11 p.m. for a special floor session to figure out a way out of this mess -- meaning there could be a vote tonight on the budget. But first, the Democrats have to grant three Republican wishes...To recap: the state has a $42-billion deficit, a growing problem that has resulted in thousands of layoffs, stalled construction jobs and concerned school administrators. Two weeks ago, before the first vote was scheduled for last Saturday, the Big 5 (two Republican and Democrat leaders in the Assembly + two state Senate leaders from each party + the guvnah) agreed on a balanced approach to cover the massive hole.
Had legislators approved the budget, the state would have implemented a spending plan that called for expenditure reductions (program cuts) of $15.1 billion, revenues increases (taxes) of $14.4 billion and $11.4 billion in borrowing (money we don't really have. Smart, I know.) Plus, the federal government has nearly $10 million to offset some of our state costs.
So, everything was going swimmingly, right? Legislators scheduled a 9 a.m. vote and everyone was keen on agreeing on this imperfect plan so they could go home in time for Presidents Day. Only, the Democrats and the Republican leadership didn't count on a full-fledged revolt by the (all of a sudden) fiscally conservative wing of the Republican party.