Tag Archives: Budget

G.O.P. ‘Balance’ Just More Pain for Average Families

A crisis in our state’s capitol: Too many Republicans.

A crisis in our state’s capitol: Too many Republicans.

The Tennessee House Republican Caucus released this week a movie trailer-style campaign video to highlight their members’ vote to support a federal balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and every Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives support this measure. Mitt Romney campaigned on it in 2012.

When Republican politicians say “balanced budget,” they’re using coded special interest-speak for slashing investments in America so the rich can get more tax breaks.

A so-called “Balanced Budget” proposal sounds nice, but this reckless scheme would mean our government couldn’t take action during bad economic times.

For instance, if this idea had been in place before Bush’s Great Recession, 15 million more Americans would’ve been thrown out of work and our unemployment rate would have doubled.

It is already Congress’ job to pass a budget and make sure our nation is living within its means and making responsible choices.

The last thing we need is an amendment that gives Republican politicians an excuse to do nothing.

Our budget should be built on sound policy, not sound bites.

“Balanced”

To me, a “balanced” budget makes adjustments to both expenditures and revenues. That means a balanced approach would trim spending AND ask the wealthy to do their fair share.

But even modest (and popular) proposals to eliminate tax expenditures receive a full defense from Republican politicians and their big corporate backers. A complete expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy? Nope. Unnecessary tax breaks for Big Oil? Forever. Tax breaks for U.S. companies that ship jobs overseas. You betcha.

In 2011, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said a balanced budget amendment without any tax increases “would necessitate deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”

Not only are Tennessee Republicans proud to support a measure that would devastate the wealth and health of Tennessee families, this joke of a video production suggests that Tennessee Republican policy should be a model for replication.

After several years of GOP tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, this year, Tennessee has a more than $200 million budget shortfall.

And not one Republican is suggesting we return millionaire tax rates to their former levels.

For Tennessee Republicans, all the budget “balancing” will be at the expense of the working families and the poor.

If Republicans stopped putting millionaires and special interests ahead of everyday Americans, we could have a balanced budget.

Choices: Care for Grandma or Tax Breaks for Millionaires?

Grandma got haslamedIf given the choice between spending tax dollars on care for Tennessee seniors who need nursing home services or a new $100 million annual tax break for the wealthiest families in our state, which would you choose?

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told grandma “you’re on your own” and chose to pad the pockets of his fellow millionaires and billionaires.

In a bit of solid reporting from The Tennessean, reporter Tom Wilemon found that 3,000 elderly Tennesseans who need nursing home care cannot get it because of Haslam budget cuts:

Under a program known as TennCare Choices, [some Tennessee seniors] could have selected either a nursing home or intensive at-home support from nurses and other health care providers. But the state, in an effort to curtail costs while meeting the health needs of aging baby boomers, set new rules that create a higher hurdle for families to qualify. Nearly 3,000 people who probably would have been judged to need nursing home care in early 2012 are instead getting only limited home visits.

The story explained in detail the horrific consequences some families and elderly couples are grappling with as a result of the Haslam administration’s decision to cut the nursing home program.

Cuts to programs for the poor and elderly are inevitable when the Republican governor and legislature place tax cuts for the rich and well connected above all else.

In the 2012 vice presidential debate, Joe Biden famously said, “show me your budget and I’ll tell you what your priorities are.”

Instead of strengthening healthcare security for elderly Tennesseans and working families, Haslam and the Republican majority prioritized tax breaks for millionaires and budget-busting handouts for business pals.

Haslam's tax cuts for the rich

Our economy grows strongest, not from the top-down, but from the middle-out and bottom-up.

Multimillion dollar tax breaks for Haslam and his wealthy friends undermine our economic future. As do skyrocketing out-of-pocket healthcare costs for some of our grandparents.

Ironically, the name of the nursing home program Haslam cut is “Choices.”

Tennessee seniors should remember this and choose anything but Haslam and his severe Republican majority come November.

Haslam’s State of the State: Addressing Contradictions

Haslam Two FaceAfter a year of dithering on his stated aim to increase post-secondary graduation rates to 55 percent, Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday finally proposed a program to move toward accomplishing this goal.

Along with it, his budget includes college tuition hikes and scholarship cuts for freshman and sophomores.

Haslam has been using this kind of political doublespeak since he began running for governor four years ago and his State of the State speech Monday night was riddled with more of the same.

‘Tennessee Promise’

Haslam’s big announcement was a new $34 million government program, called Tennessee Promise, which would pay for graduating high school seniors to attend two years of community college free of tuition and fees.

Haslam budgets for the “Promise” by weakening the Hope Scholarship program and hiking tuition rates — again.

If the governor gets his way, Tennessee Promise would divert several hundred million dollars from the Tennessee Lottery reserve that underwrites the Hope Scholarship program. Haslam would also cut Hope Scholarship funding by $1,000 a year for qualifying freshmen and sophomores enrolled in four-year colleges.

To support two-year programs, Haslam’s plan would punish first- and second-year students at four-year universities. It would also severely restrict any future push to expand the successful Hope Scholarship program, which has provided high-performing students reliable tuition assistance, but hasn’t kept pace with inflation.

The father of the Hope Scholarship, now-Congressman Steve Cohen explained the problem with Tennessee Promise in an interview with The Commercial Appeal.

Preparing students to win the jobs of tomorrow is crucial for our state’s economic future, but stealing crucial funding from students and four-year universities to bolster two-year programs misses the point.

More Doublespeak & Contradictions

The ‘Promise’ was a glaring example, but there was plenty more Haslam doublespeak from his speech, where his actions have contradicted his rhetoric.

Teacher Pay: For months the governor has openly bragged about his intention to make Tennessee the “fastest growing” state for teacher pay. He repeated himself again at the State of the State.

Haslam did not mention that this year’s pay raise was financed with savings from the deep cuts Haslam’s administration made to the teacher salary schedule last year.

Taxes: Haslam yowled about a new $80 million budget deficit, but refused to acknowledge that his massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, like himself, played any part in creating the deficit.

In fact, Haslam’s tax breaks for the rich, which will dig a $1 billion hole in the state budget over a decade, could have paid for his entire Tennessee Promise program and spared cuts to other vital programs that serve Tennesseans.

But Haslam and the Republican majority would rather cut programs for working families and saddle students with more debt than ask the wealthiest Tennesseans to do their share to invest in our economic future.

Healthcare: Once again, Haslam said how important it was for Tennessee families to have health coverage. He then told Tennessee’s uninsured, working poor to keep dreaming ‘cause Medicaid expansion ain’t happening on his watch.

Best Managed State: Haslam crowed about Tennessee being named third best managed state.

He left out that his Department of Children’s Services failed to respond to children in need or even account for more than a hundred dead children in its care.

Haslam also skimmed past the preventable deaths of disabled Tennesseans in the care of his Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities.

Haslam glossed over his office management plan at the Department of General Services, which secured a $330 million no-bid, sweetheart contract for his business pals.

Never said a word about the $73 million of fraudulent and improper payments and crushing backlogs at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

What did you take away from Haslam’s State of the State?

Brandon Puttbrese is a public relations specialist and former communications director at the Tennessee Democratic Party. Find him on Twitter and Facebook.com

Analysis: TN State of the State #TNSOTS2014

Unicorns and daisies in stunning monochrome

Unicorns and daisies in stunning monochrome®

So last night Gov. Bill Haslam delivered his 4th State of the State address of his term.

It was the same kind of “long on promises and short on details” self-congratulatory affair that we’ve come to expect from the Governor, complete with that good ole fiscal conservatism that says tax cuts for people who don’t miss the money are better than services for people who need them.

It was only imaginative in the way it manipulated or simply omitted facts to further a narrative of success that most people haven’t felt yet.

The Governor talked a lot about education. Nearly half of the speech was about it in some way or another. But to start, we should probably cover some of the other topics, so they don’t get lost in the mix.

Long List of “Accomplishments”

The Governor started off with a long list of “accomplishments”. Real long. Like almost two pages of them.

Lots of accolades from being named 3rd best managed state in the nation (I couldn’t find that, but I did find us at 16th last year which is better than most, that one needs a citation.

He also noted our award for state of the year from Business Facilities Magazine. The magazine notes the state brought in 6900 new jobs, but that’s less than 3% of the 237,700 people who were looking for work in December. Hardly a stellar performance for the people actually looking for jobs.

Haslam also hailed the drop in space state offices occupy. He says this will save the state money. Unfortunately, even his own numbers, as reported by NC5 in Nashville, tell a very different story. NC5 could only find about $450,000/year of savings, and further found the math the Governor has used is more than a little fuzzy. Good to know as we head into the budget section of the presentation.

$260m + -$340m = cut taxes

Haslam laid out new revenues for the upcoming year of $260m. Of course, his projections for this year are already $171m off the mark, so who knows if this is real or more fuzzy math from the Governor.

He also laid out $340m in new spending ($180m in Tenncare, $40m in employee health insurance, and $120m for education). That leaves an $80m hole in the budget.

The Governor defended tax cuts for estate taxes and the Hall income tax as “revenue growth” policies. This is a common GOP refrain, that makes no sense and that has been proven wrong over and over again.

Gov. Haslam offered no proposal that would cover the $80m dollar shortfall, so there’s that.

Education policy du jour

Of course, education was a huge part of the speech, since that’s the one thing just about everyone agrees the state should pay for (within limits). The Governor hailed the gains in the state’s overall TCAP scores for 2013. There’s no question that seeing scores go up is a positive, but a seven point jump in two years when the national average is only one point, should be a cause for skepticism. Further, going back to 2003, the states scores have increased by 12 points (seven of those between 2011 and 2013).

Had the gains been a gradual upswing (they weren’t) they would seem to be the result of a policy decision. But a seven point swing in two years looks more like an outlier than a trend. This is something we’ll have to watch more in the coming years to see if a trend is actually established. My gut tells me no. The state scores have hovered in the same 3 point swing zone since 2005.

He also hit on all the “blame the teachers” policies his administration has been pushing since 2011, and vouchers…something drains resources from already under-resourced public schools.

Tennessee Promises, Promises

The biggest attention grabber was the “Tennessee Promise” program. Under this plan, high school students would be given two years of free tuition at a two-year school to get an associates degree. If they chose to move on to a four-year institution, they could begin as a junior.

On the face of it, this seems like a good and progressive idea. Get kids who might not have the resources or the grades to make it in a four-year school to get their feet wet in a two-year school, and parlay that success into higher educational attainment overall.

But he devil is in the details, and the plan to use money from the Tennessee Lottery Scholarship fund raised the ire of the panned the funding idea because it would drain the fund, and possibly hurt four-year institutions in the state, by draining away college Freshmen and Sophomores.

I’m also skeptical about the “endowment fund” that would pay for this program. How will the endowment be administered? Will it have a board packed with cronies like just about every other government institution in the state? What happens if it runs out of money?

Seems to me, the money would be better spent as intended…to fully fund college, and that more money should be allocated to higher education to bring tuition costs down, and maybe even attract out of state students that pay way more than in-state students do.

As for the Community Colleges, they’re critically important, no doubt. But shouldn’t they be focused on the things they’re already successful at…providing access to some General Ed. courses for students and graduating students who aren’t on a four-year track.

On a political note, the idea that this General Assembly would pass a bill that amounts to a new entitlement is cute. I don’t see it happening.

So there it is. The state of the state. The response from the House Democratic Caucus can be found here.

No One Likes Making Tough Decisions

Memphis City Councilmen Jim Strickland (Left)
and Shea Flinn (Right)

Budget time can be contentious, regardless of the organization. As we saw in the waning days of this state legislative session it can be VERY contentious.

City budgets are no different, and are also facing the same pressures, if not more acutely, than the state government.

On June 8th, the Memphis City Council approved a budget for the coming fiscal year. The process had been contentious. In fact, if you just look at the articles by Amos Maki of the Commercial Appeal you can see just how much shifting had to occur.

But it seems there’s still a problem. A looming court decision over school funding could mean a tax hike of 52 cents per $100 of assessed value on property in Memphis, which, according to a presentation given by Councilman Shea Flinn on June 8th, already has the highest property tax rate of any urban county in the state.

To put that number in perspective, a person with a home valued at $170,000 would have to pay $225 in addition to the $3100 already paid to the City and County.

Flinn’s presentation laid out two options for dealing with the issue, wait and see, and his own proposal which would increase the tax rate by 17 cents over the next three years to cover the cost of the judgement.

In talking to Flinn yesterday, he expressed that while he preferred the proposal he laid out to prepare for this issue, a proposal that was defeated at the meeting on June 8th, he was also open to other ideas.

Yesterday that “other idea” was proposed by Jim Strickland. In a letter to Mayor Wharton and the City Council, Strickland offers an alternative that involves rolling back pay increases to city employees.

I don’t want to get into which one is better or worse. That’s not the point. The point is that there are now three ideas, wait and pray with a likely huge one time tax increase, a smaller tax increase spread over 3 years, or cut salaries. There are likely many more possibilities out there.

The issue for me is, there are 13 members of the City Council, and only two have come forward with a proposal to keep property owners from seeing a huge GOTCHA when city property tax bills come out in July. Or worse, when another whole round of bills have to be mailed out later in the year.

I don’t know about you, but I pay a mortgage. Every month a huge chunk of what I pay is put in escrow for my property taxes. If my tax bill increases, so does my mortgage payment. It’s already hard enough for me and thousands of people like me, who have seen a significant drop in income to make that monthly payment. God knows paying between $75 and $225 more this year is a burden for something that you would think would already be covered in a tax rate that’s 150% of Knoxville and 175% of Nashville. Where the hell is the money going?

I applaud Strickland and Flinn for at least putting something out there, but I wonder where the other 11 are and why they haven’t stepped out to deal with this issue. I also wonder why the administration didn’t deal with this in their budget in the first place.

No one likes making tough decisions, but like Flinn said at the end of this article:

We got elected to make the tough decisions. Do the damn work.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Morning Coffee – Slip-n-Slide Edition

Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy at Bands Not Bombs
Photo via The Memphis Flyer

Summer is just around the corner even though temperatures over the past weekend may lead you to believe it’s already here. But it’s not all fun and games, despite the photo of one of my favorite Memphis politicians enjoying some summertime fun. There’s some serious stuff, particularly budget decisions on the local level, that must be resolved before the new fiscal year begins on July 1st.

The Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission are putting the final touches on their budgets now. So far it’s looking like both bodies will be able to knock it out by the end of the month.

Then there’s the State Legislature, which is still in session despite the widely held belief that they might have finished up last week (I was one of those).

Nope, apparently there’s still some unfinished business in Nashville. Today the House takes up 36 bills. The Senate will be in session tomorrow, though no calendar was available at the time of this writing.

You might ask, how the respective bodies of the legislature expects to get anything done if they’re not even meeting on the same days. At least one legislator thinks the move is all about per diem. I’m not sure I agree with him, which is not unusual. From the looks of things on Friday, the House looked pretty cranky. I’m not sure that coming in on Saturday would have done much to expedite the session’s end.

That said, the Senate was none too happy about the House’s decision to take a few mental health days, which is likely why they chose to take a couple themselves and adjourn until Wednesday. Tit-for-Tat between the House and the Senate is the one consistent thread throughout this entire session, so it’s not surprising that this behavior continues through it’s last throes.

Will the state legislature finally end it this week? I don’t know and wouldn’t say if I did. Quite frankly, the magic 8 ball on this one says reply hazy.

We’ll see how it goes. Now on to the coffee!

College tuition is likely going up again.

Tom Humphrey on some other unfinished business that may keep the legislature around for a while.

State Senator Andy Berke is going Old Testament on some of the shenanigans in the State Senate by reviving his mountaintop removal bill. An eye for an eye and all, y’all.

And finally, we says goodbye to a man who helped bring affordable house to thousands of Memphians. Harold Buehler passed away Sunday night. He will be missed.

Have a good day out there!

Morning Coffee – Let’s Make a Deal Edition

I had no idea that Monty Hall, of Let’s Make a Deal fame, had his own paradox and mathematical nuisance. Who knew 70’s pop culture had such depth?

Truth be told, 70’s pop culture doesn’t really have all THAT much depth, but maybe, just maybe, there’s something to be learned from this phenomena. Or maybe not.

Irregardlesslyness (a word coined in protest to the word irregardless being put in the dictionary) there’s FINALLY been some deal making up on the hill in Nashville, and maybe, just maybe a budget will get passed this week. (Senators Mark Norris and Lowe Finney seem to think so anyway)

The compromise budget restores funding to infant mortality prevention, and includes a $20m tax break for flood victims. It dumps funding for a $16m provision that would build a fish hatchery in Carter County, something which seems to have been the primary sticking point in the negotiations.

Last night the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee met to move the compromise budget forward. The Senate meets this morning at 9am and the full House meets at 10am to finish this puppy, and other issues off.

Hopefully, this will bring this session of the legislature to an end, and not a minute too soon.

I think some celebratory coffee is in order.

A couple of measures failed yesterday in the legislature including the Freedom from Healthcare Act and the Anti-Income Tax Constitutional Amendment. These bills are like zombies though. I’m sure we’ll see them again next year.

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey says his Republican Gubernatorial opponent, Zach Wamp, doesn’t pass his smell test. Who knew the Senate Speaker had such acute olfactory perception?

I can’t imagine why someone would want to steal money from The MED, since they don’t have that much of it, but this lady did. Grumble, grumble, grumble…

Former US Senate Minority Whip turned lobbyist, Trent Lott is hosting a fundraiser for TN-08 candidate George Flinn. I’m not sure why I care about this, except that it gives me the opportunity to link to the Strom Thurmond Gaffe, which pleases me.

Ok, enjoy riding around in that shiny new state budget. Remember, no returns after…oh hell, it hasn’t passed yet. Well, you still can’t return it when it does, so hope ya like it!

Is It Is, Or Is It Ain’t Pork?

I think this means something different from what it says...

As the budget negotiations continue to drag us into mid-June, a fundamental truth is coming into focus; pork is relative.

Consider this article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

$18m for a privately run prison the administration says it doesn’t need is still in the budget.

$16m for a fish hatchery that will bring jobs and economic development is on the ropes.

Which one is the pork barrel project?

Some have called “fish the new pork” in reference to the fish hatchery for Carter County. Others have called the project, “special projects of the members of the Legislature”.

Truth of the matter is that the fish hatchery in Carter County has been around since before Williams’ election. The Tennessee Wildlife Management Agency asked the Elizabethton City Council about buying land in an industrial park for a hatchery in 2002, long before Williams was elected.

While the hatchery may only employ 22 people, which is another objection to the appropriation, it will also bring in a lot more than that in the long term thanks to increased tourism.

Lt. Gov. Ramsey says he’s “absolutely for building the fish hatchery, but not in this budget year.”

Why not this year?

Could it be that this is an election year and Lt. Gov. Ramsey doesn’t want Kent Williams to get any credit for it, and possibly hurt the chances of the Republicans on the ballot? Who’s really playing politics with this issue, the Governor and Democrats and Republicans in the House, or the State Senate?

What about the closure of the prison that Kent Williams mentioned?

On one side, the administration argues that there is room in other prisons to move the current occupants of this facility, which is slated to close in 2011 anyway, saving the state $18m.

On the other side there’s a fairly valid argument that keeping the jobs the prison provide is more important in the long run.

But the prison was slated to close in 2011 regardless. In effect, those jobs are already gone. Pushing to keep the prison open until June 30 of next year is merely delaying the inevitable.

By appropriating the $18m for the prison in Freshman Senator Delores Gresham’s district, some would argue this appropriation in the Senate Republican budget is trying to save the future political fortunes of a new member who isn’t up for election until after the prison is slated to be closed for a year. Perhaps they think that the next Governor will decide to keep the prison open. I don’t know, but from my understanding, closing this unit has been in the works since last year’s budget.

Here’s another thing to think about. The $18m for the prison is in the regular state budget. If it passes, it will be spent no matter what. The $16m for the fish hatchery is contingent on federal stimulus dollars, which may or may not come through from the federal government.

I don’t know and won’t say that either the prison or the fish hatchery is pork, but in the end, we all need to realize that we’re arguing about less than 1% of the total state budget on both of these issues. Truth is, whether or not something is pork has more to do with how much that individual stands to benefit from it, rather than some truly rational metric.

Its time to stop being political and start being rational about the budget. The rational thing to do is for the Senate Republicans to stop playing games by pushing a budget that the majority of our 132 legislators serving in Nashville oppose. I know that’s not the way it works, but all this eye for an eye crap, while biblically titillating to the Republican majority in the Senate, isn’t getting the state anywhere.

Its time to move forward. It’s time for y’all to finish this budget and quit bugging Nashville with your nonsense.

The Budget Punt

It’s been 18 days since Republicans in the State Senate finally got around to introducing an alternative to the budget proposed by Governor Bredesen in February. The original Republican plan offered draconian cuts to just about everything from economic development funding to infant mortality prevention.

Since then, negotiations seem to have narrowed the differences down to about $26m in appropriations and $20m in tax breaks for Tennessee flood victims, or .9% of appropriations, and .7% of revenue.

The differences have been characterized as “quibbling” by Speaker Ramsey, though in that same report he expressed that he’s willing to continue to “quibble” for “as long as it takes”.

Let’s hear it for good faith negotiations! /snark

According to Tom Humphrey the main sticking points are $16.1m for a fish hatchery, $5m for the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and $4.5m to reduce infant mortality in the state.

So lets see, Senate Republicans are against Economic Development, Civil Rights, and saving babies. Good luck running on those issues guys.

In reality, there are a lot more differences than just these three issues that are snarling the negotiations. One of the biggest issues is the way the Senate Republican proposal seeks to fund things.

In their initial proposal Senate Republicans sought to achieve cuts by using “non-recurring funds”. By using this tactic, the plan gives the impression of reducing cost, but the long-term consequences are dire. Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Mike McWherter warned us of these consequences two weeks ago.

I’m sure that Senate Republicans, particularly Speaker Ramsey, like the idea of running on what looks like slim and trim budget that doesn’t dip too deeply into the rainy day fund for reasons that Speaker Williams believes are purely political, but their short-term solutions for long-term problems illustrate just how brazenly they’re playing politics with the future of the state of Tennessee.

So now, with only one day of per-diem left, it appears that the State Senate will have to continue to negotiate the budget without it. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner says they could be there well into June.

While most Tennesseans may not be paying close attention to what’s going on in Nashville, they’ll be facing a harsh reality in the very near future if the Senate Republican proposal passes. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have bought just enough time in their “budget” that most Tennesseans will not actually feel the pain they would inflict upon the state until after the November elections. By then, it may be too late to reverse the damage quickly.

On Wednesday, I wrote about getting engaged. If ever there was a time to do so, that time is now. If we want to positively transform Tennessee, and ensure a bright future for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, we have to take an active role in defining that future.

Our hands off approach is what helped bring us to this ridiculous Republican proposed budget. It will take a lot of hands and voices to make sure that it doesn’t see the light of day.

It’s time to saddle up folks.

Will the State Budget Be Decided This Week?

The jury is still out, but lawmakers are working on it.

Last night, on the floor of the House, Leader Odom opined that there was no way the legislature would be done by the end of the week, which elicited groans from several other lawmakers.

Still, the process moves forward.

This morning the Memphis Daily News take a look at the State’s budget negotiations. From the article:

There are essentially three budget proposals being discussed: Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen’s original plan, an alternative proposal from Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis, and a Senate Republican plan.

House Democrats are expected to release details of their plan this week, but Democratic leaders say it’s similar to Kyle’s.

All of the proposals seek to keep the state’s rainy day fund plentiful and provide additional support for victims of the historic flooding in West and Middle Tennessee the weekend of May 1-2, which recent estimates show has caused almost $2 billion in damage to Nashville alone.

“We’re looking … to help the needy people of this state,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville said last week at a press conference called by Democratic leaders to discuss their budget proposal.

I don’t have a lot of confidence that the House and Senate can get on the same page on the budget by the end of the week, but we’ll see.

Last year session lasted through mid-June due to long budget negotiations. Considering where we are in the process, I think it’s reasonable to expect that it will be at least another week before the budget is decided.

Conventional wisdom says that legislators want to get done so they can get to campaigning, but they also don’t want to pass a budget that will be used as a blunt instrument against them in their campaigns, which is exactly why I think this is going to take a little longer than many expect.

Reconciling the differences between what the House and the Senate are willing to do is going to take some time. Hopefully I’m wrong, and they’ll wrap it up by the end of the week, but I don’t think so.

We’ll continue following the negotiations.