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State Budget Negotiatons Begin Quietly

The talks kicked off with small agreements, like the House agreeing with the Senate’s desire to drain $16m from a renewable energy fund,  and also to pay for local water projects starting in 2014 rather than 2015.

But while top budget writers stressed their common goals, big disagreements loom, on taxes and Medicaid expansion.

"Monday we’ll start the hard work of really talking about the issue where we may have some disagreement."

Democrat Mary Jane Wallner is House Finance Committee Chairman; Republican Chuck Morse leads the Senate’s finance panel.

"Medicaid expansion is a problem in this budget. I don’t think it should have been in the back of the budget, and I think the senate agrees with all of that."

The Republican-led Senate also opposes a 20-cent increase in the tobacco tax favored by the house and its proposal to delay implementation of tax breaks for businesses.

The Democratic-controlled house, meanwhile opposes a $50 million Senate-proposed cut in staff and benefits. The official deadline for negotiators to reach compromise is Thursday.