Cross-over was Thursday. This day is when all bills must be out of the house of origin. House bills out of the House and vice versa. Legislators are like high school students that wait until Sunday to finish homework due on Monday. Consequently, the House worked until 9:20 p.m. and the Senate until 6:30 p.m. on Thursday to get its work done.
Appropriations sub-committees started meeting this past week with departments to evaluate budgets. So far, we have adopted sub-committee recommendations for the governor’s office, lieutenant governor, office of economic development, state auditor, state treasurer and the PUC. Many of these departments have small budgets, so the reviews do not take much time. Appropriations must find $25 million in the 2017 and nearly $30 million in the 2018 in order to balance the budget. Most of 2017 will be accomplished with one time savings like the closure of STAR Academy. The savings from the closure will be approximately $2 million. Some of the savings will come from department suggestions and a reduction in current spending for the remainder of the fiscal year. Any deficit left will most likely come from reserves. For 2018, Appropriations and its sub-committees are eliminating most of the department’s program expansions. Education will get its mandatory increase of .3%. Our service providers will receive no increase. This approach will eliminate most of the deficit. Any remaining deficit will most likely mean program cuts.
Here is an update on some bills of interest. HB 1076, the government accountability board, passed the House by a vote of 64 to 3. Email your Senators and ask for their support. This is an excellent bill and has the support of the Attorney General and Secretary of State. SB 54 from the Secretary of State’s office addresses campaign finance was amended and passed the Senate by a vote of 19 to 16. Unfortunately, this bill does very little to limit campaign donations like IM-22. Attempts to amend the bill failed. We will try to amend again in the House. It is important that the limits in this bill reflect those in IM-22. Legislators should respect the will of the voters. Finally, SB 55 known as the “Science Bill” would have allowed teachers to teach non-scientific theory in place of actual science. This bill failed in House Education and was deferred to the 41st legislative day 11 to 4.
Thank you for the email and calls this past week. Your input is important and appreciated. If you have questions or concerns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 940-3071.