Going Down to the Last Day … Again

A supposed budget agreement on April 29, the last day of the regular legislative session, fell apart when barely a quarter of the 100 House represenatives voted for it. Let’s hope for better results Tuesday, when all 150 legislators will cast their votes on a budget compromise and plan to help Indianapolis’ Capital Improvement Board.

Key legislators worked behind the scenes, Gov. Mitch Daniels offered his insights and legislative caucus meetings were undoubtedly interesting. But as the budget bill was being printed Monday,  House members called it a day. While there were rumors of a Senate vote to come yet tonight, Democrats there opted to go home.

No complaints with either of those decisions. Rushed votes, without a true understanding of what is in the legislation, would likely lead to an unfortunate outcome. The state can’t really afford that.

Few details are known at this point, other than the core of the agreement being the Republicans’ two-year plan instead of the Democrats’ one-year proposal. How far the compromises went on education funding and other key issues is yet to be seen.

The good news is there is a bill to vote on, a step many have doubted in recent days. The uncertain news is in the details of the hundreds of pages of the proposal and what legislators will do tomorrow. It’s not the last day of the special session then, but the final opportunity to avoid a state government shutdown.

Good luck to all! 

Statehouse Progress: Not So Fast

Any illusion (or perhaps delusion is more apt) of this special session going smoothly and ending quickly are pretty much history.
Not only don’t we have a behind-the-scenes deal from House Democrats and Republicans to put forth a state budget to the Senate in a timely manner, but day one of the special session showcased partisanship and maneuverings that will likely push the proceedings right up to the June 30 deadline.
The House Democrats introduced their own one-year budget via House Bill 1001, which is in line with their approach for the regular session and in contrast to the governor’s traditional two-year plan announced last week.
From virtually the start of the proceedings on Thursday, the two parties were at odds. Minority Leader Brian Bosma appeared blindsided that two additional measures – House Bill 1002 (aiding the Capital Improvement Board) and House Bill 1003 (involving public assistance) – were coming into play instead of focusing strictly on the budget. Time was also taken up by Republican concerns that gaming provisions would find their way into the bills.
As testimony surrounding House Bill 1001 begins today in the Ways and Means Committee (9 a.m.), amendments to the measure are already in the works. And that’s before the Senate gets its hands on it. So things are shaping up nicely to mirror the back and forth that led to no budget at all in April. Will someone blink this time? You would like to think so – especially since each day of the special session means taxpayer dollars are being spent for something that should have been done right the first time!
The full House reconvenes on Monday; when the Senate comes back is anyone’s guess as they are at the mercy of the House actually moving the bill. That leaves a little over two weeks to straighten out this entire budget mess.
Wonder what the over/under is on hitting June 30? On second thought … let’s not even think about it.