Today is the third day of the third special session… and hopefully a budget is forthcoming!
Brief update: The revenue forecast came out on the 20th and is roughly $81 million higher for the remainder of this biennium (which ends June 30th) and $86 million higher for the next biennium. Although that isn’t enough to solve major budget issues, it is at least going in a positive direction, which is much better than the alternative!
State employees and contractors are getting information about furloughs, contract suspensions, who is and is not considered essential, etc. Nearing the end of the fiscal year without a budget causes considerable anxiety for employees in the public and private realms AND recipients of services. For example, the bulk of visitation for parents and children involved in the child welfare system is supervised through contracted providers. If we have a partial government shutdown, these will have to cease, which could cause delays in the dependency process. Another example is families on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). While they would continue to receive a grant, many of the services, as well as child care, that they receive would be discontinued, which in turn could extend their time on TANF but not the total number of months for which they are eligible (no more than 60 months). The list goes on and on.
The Governor held a press conference on the 21st and made it very clear: He wants the legislature to negotiate a budget agreement and NOT shut down state government, stating unequivocally that he would veto a continuing resolution-type bill. And, it appears that there is movement with respect to McCleary, as well as other aspects of the budget.
The Senate was going to come in on the 22nd but didn’t. Instead, we are hearing that they will be in on Monday and expect to be in session for the duration of the week. It is likely the House will do the same, but either or both could change! The most consistent information (rumor!) is that they will be called back when there is an agreement so that they can pass the budget and consider all of the bills that are necessary to implement the budget and other bills that have been identified as high priority. Since HB 1661, the bill establishing the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, has still not passed both chambers, our hope is that it is taken up soon!
This is definitely getting down to the wire, so keep your fingers crossed that negotiations move forward, a budget agreement is reached, and significant bills, (such as HB 1661) pass… AND that we have a final sine die for 2017 – before July 1st.
Reminder: We will do an analysis of the budget and final update sometime after the legislature adjourns. If you do not receive an update next Friday, stay tuned… We will get one out as soon as possible!
Have a good weekend!
Public Policy Director