Here’s a quick update regarding where things stand at the Capitol as we approach the Legislature’s adjournment at midnight:
Legislators and the governor reached preliminary agreement on the framework of a new two-year state budget yesterday. “Framework” is the key word in that last sentence. It might help to think of building a budget it in terms of building a home because, even though the frame of an agreement is up, much more work remains before the basic structure is a completed project.
One of the most important aspects of the overall agreement is there will be no increase to the state gas tax after the governor and the House majority abandoned their proposal to raise it by 20 cents per gallon. On top of that, there will be no raiding of the fund that helps pay for work on roads and bridges.
It took real compromise to reach an agreement with divided powers at the Capitol. So, while I am pleased the gas tax won’t be raised by 70 percent, I also am concerned that Democrats are getting their wish to raise taxes on health care by more than $2 billion.
While those components were essential to the budget deal, most of the other finance provisions need to be ironed out by committees. Since there is not enough time to complete that process by the time the clock strikes midnight tonight, a brief special session will need to be scheduled to put the full budget in order. It has not been determined exactly when that may happen, so stay tuned.
Let me know if you have any questions on this and I will do my best to provide answers as details come together.