After a few weeks of Republican infighting, legislative leaders struck a deal for a massive $8.3 billion spending plan.
Friday, the State House of Representatives passed a record $8.3 billion spending plan along party lines with Democrats angry about the $200 million built into it for savings.
“Here’s what the budget really comes down to. One side believes that we should save money. One side believes that it is fiscally responsible not to spend every single penny that you have. And the other side doesn’t,” said Representative Jon Echols (R) Majority Floor Leader.
Representative Emily Virgin (D) Minority Leader responded, “This side of the isle is not advocating for spending that money. We are advocating for spending the money that the taxpayers gave us, that we asked them for.”
Representative Virgin continued, “To trust us that it would go towards core services.”
The budget was rolled out earlier this week after dueling press conferences between the Senate, House and governor over education spending.
“This past week proved to be pretty difficult when Senate decided to release a different budget publicly that they haven’t shared with myself or the House,” said Governor Kevin Stitt Monday.
That public pressure worked, and leaders reached an agreement Wednesday.
The plan also includes a $200 million increase for public education to fund $1,200 raises for teachers and $74 million more for local school districts. It also includes fully funding state road and bridge repair projects, and kicks in a million dollars to reduce the backlog of the state’s 7,200 untested rape kits.
“I am shocked. I didn’t even know that this was coming. So, I think it’s fantastic. And it’s very encouraging,” said Rape Kit Task Force Member Danielle Tudor.
This week, the House also passed a criminal justice reform bill that could reduce sentences of non-violent offenders currently serving time.
“Who is in support of the bill is all of the criminal justice reform advocates, everything from the left to the right,” said Representative Jon Echols (R) Majority Floor Leader.
The Senate could take up the budget bill as early as Tuesday.