With just four weeks left in the state legislative session we’ve seen little movement, at least publicly, on the state’s $1.3 billion budget deficit. Still, lawmakers say they’re making progress.
Lawmakers returned to the Capitol Monday to see more than 1,100 flags planted on the south lawn representing 1,100 children killed by child abuse and neglect this past year. The state has cut some child abuse prevention programs by 100-percent because of the budget crisis.
And there was more bad news.
“We heard this week that our public schools are looking at maybe an additional 17-million dollar cut coming down due to what would be considered a third revenue failure,” said Representative Scott Inman (R) House Minority Leader.
The governor signed a number of high profile bills into law including one that would require DNA testing for every felony arrest; a "Blue alert", letting the public know when a police officer has been assaulted and the attacker is on the loose; and a package of criminal justice reform bills to reduce the prison population.
“To be smarter on crime,” said Senator Mike Schulz (R) Majority Floor Leader, “To give those folks that are not…they’re nonviolent offenders, an opportunity.”
Republican's say they're getting closer to a budget deal, but the Senate still hasn't reached an agreement with the House on revenues, and they're still miles apart on borrowing money to fill the budget hole. The governor wants the state to bond up to 500-million dollars - the House is saying 300-million.
And the Senate, “What I’ve advocated would be no more than 150-million dollars on a two-year commitment,” said Senator Clark Jolley (R) District 41. “So where the house is saying 300-million dollars in bonds, they’re suggesting that we use all of that in one year. My suggestion would be that we break it up into two years if we have to.”
Democrats say they don't want any last minute deals.
“Not just thrown together in one sort of a complete package at the end of the session and told with a gun to our head you have to vote it,” said Inman.
Schulz insisted a budget would be in place in four weeks, because, he said, “I want to go home.”