The Legislature passed a budget that fully funds the Department of Health, but reduces nine state agencies budgets by 24 percent, slashes higher ed spending, and cuts TOPS to 70 percent coverage. The jury is still out on whether the governor will veto the plan, but if he approves the plan, but if he authorizes it House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry says it won’t be “imaginary”.
“Assuming tis not vetoed by the governor it will become law. During a special session if members chose to raise additional revenue then we will do a supplemental bill to backfill some of these agencies that have been reduced but this bill is law.”
Democrats have raged against the budget, calling it immoral, and calling on lawmakers to reject any budget until a special session arrives that can plug a 648 million dollar shortfall. But Henry says the state has to work with the money it has available, and prioritize.
“We have to use the money we have to cover the priorities and providing services to the elderly is obviously something the members want to do and feel is a priority.”
The governor has called for a special session next week to replace expiring sales tax revenues at the heart of the budget struggle. Henry says Republicans are potentially open to revenue proposals, but they’re back from the voters over the weekend.
“It really depends on the appetite of our constituents on how much money they want to raise. If they get push back on fully funding higher education or TOPs, then maybe members will be inclined to raise some revenue.”