It is good we have a general "conditional" budget agreement in place to bring this state shutdown to an end, but I am withholding full judgment on this plan until all the details are available.
The short of it is the governor backed down from his plan to raise income taxes and the Legislature offered to hold off on some reform and policy changes we were looking to make. We will just have to revisit those later.
Legislators and staff will be busy dotting the I's and crossing the T's on our various budget areas this weekend and we hope the governor will call us in for a special session early next week so we can formally approve a budget and end this unnecessary shutdown.
I expect all of us will be able to find parts of the budget we dislike, but that is what it means to compromise. House Speaker Kurt Zellers said at the beginning of the 2011 session that we will not all get everything we want, but that we will do our best to erase a $5 billion budget shortfall and set spending for the next two years without raising taxes by living within our means.
The budget agreement we reached is for about $34 billion in General Fund spending. That is a modest 6-percent increase, the smallest in decades and remaining at the threshold of our anticipated revenue. This is significantly less than the $39 billion we were on auto-pilot to spend, proving we can balance our budget by cutting government waste and getting spending under control.
Again, we are waiting for the details to emerge and I will soon be able to provide my full-scale opinion of the final plan. I will keep you in the loop as things develop, but the good thing is it looks like we are on track to get our state up and running again.