Senate budget writers Monday signed off on a few key spending areas in the state’s next two year budget proposal.
Without discussion, the Senate Finance Committee backed the funding of a new election enforcement position at the Attorney General’s Office, which came to the tune of nearly $100,000 a year. This person would investigate possible voter fraud in local, state and federal elections.
Bigger debate was about whether to nearly double the Governor’s proposed $6 million increase for the Community College System. That proposal failed 3 to 2 along party lines, with Senate President Chuck Morse arguing that this money could be better used elsewhere.
“We are making an effort here to give a five percent increase, which is greater than budgets are growing. I just think we are trying to go too far," Morse told the committee, adding that the state's University System saw no increase in the upcoming budget proposal.
A pilot program designed to use federal dollars to support job development for low-income people was also shot down. Republicans argued the program, better known as Granite Workforce, should be addressed in the next legislative session, not in the budget. But Democratic Senator Dan Feltes argued it would be a waste to sit on this federal money, which he estimates to be around $70 million.
This week all committee votes will be preliminary with final decisions on the Senate budget planned for early next week.