Final Budget Negotiations Off To A Slow Start

Jun 15, 2015

Senate and House budget writers say they hope to have a final two-year spending plan by the end of the week, but after two days of meetings, little to nothing has been settled.

So far, all the major sticking points between the two proposals have been put on hold. That's left no room for discussion on issues such as increased funding for mental health, substance abuse, elderly care or developmental disabilities that were all put in the Senate version.

Also remaining on the table are the restoration of the state's renewable energy fund, the Senate’s proposed business tax cuts or the House’s measure on Keno. All are expected to be debated into the late hours of Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sen. Jeanie Forrester says she is hopeful that most of the Senate’s plan will be adopted by the end of the week. 

“We had the advantage of better revenue estimates, and I think they just need to get comfortable with what we did,” she said after Monday's hearing.

Senate budget writers forecasted $118 million more in higher tax revenue over the next two years than the House did in their proposal.

Forrester says another big issue that will come up is the state employee pay raise that was taken out of the Governor’s proposal by both the House and the Senate.

A final proposal must be signed by the governor by July 1, the start of the new fiscal cycle.