Tentative Agreement Reached on 2011 Budget

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

Lawmakers are on recces now for the Jewish holiday until next Tuesday, but they got in some meaningful work just before they left.

"We have a tentative agreement, targets are set," Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop said.

The leadership of both houses has agreed to targets for the 2011 budget. which are guidelines really, on how to close a $484 million hole for the next fiscal year.

"We are in a position now where we can move forward with our conference committees to get the budget wrapped up as soon as possible," Bishop said.

Subcommittees will now meet and each individual budget will have to be voted on by the full membership.

The targets include a tax amnesty proposal and an early retirement incentive for state workers that could save about $60 million.

"The biggest sticking point was should we incentives and how big should the factor be?" Ron Jelinek, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said.

Both houses have agreed upon targets well in advance before, and yet they still have not made the budget deadline. Lawmakers said Wednesday something is different about this year.

Perhaps it has something to do with this election year, but the Senate Majority Leader said many more lawmakers are willing to look at reforming government, and not just cutting it.

"The message is out there that voters don't want the same old fixes to problems in state government," he said. "They want real concrete change."

So far they're just targets and not solutions to next year's budget problems, but it's a step in the right direction to hopefully avoid another state shutdown.

If the early retirement incentive package does not pass, that money will have to be cut from somewhere. There's talk it could come out of revenue sharing to local governments.

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