Democrats and Gov. Rell are getting marginally closer to some sort of budget agreement, with plans to meet perhaps once a month until next June to resolve their differences. But now legislative Republicans have, for some reason, proposed yet another budget, and once again there are no tax increases.
They mostly accomplish this by returning most funding (excluding salaries) at state agencies to 2007 levels. They’re also planning on making users pay for LifeStar, retirement incentives, and the usual stable of hare-brained budget nonsense like “Medicaid Re-estimation” and “securitization of state assets,” among others. There was something in there about cell towers on state buildings, but I didn’t delve too deeply into that one. And, of course, they cut the Citizens’ Election Fund, because while everyone likes democracy, some folks just aren’t willing to pay for it.
Why bother proposing a budget now? Republicans say that they hope to influence the debate over taxes, especially–but it’s unlikely that either the Democrats or the governor’s budget people are going to adopt any of the GOP’s ideas. The budget gave Democrats a useful stick to bash both the Republicans and the governor. On the one hand, they got to say that they budget was “inhumane” and cuts services for families when they need them most. On the other hand, they got to point out that the governor and her party are not on the same page–and that’s something news coverage has focused on, as well (this headline says it all). GOP leaders have said that there’s no conflict between the governor and her party, but it’s hard to ignore the evidence in their competing proposals.
What have they really accomplished, then? They have put their principles out there, but isn’t it a little late for that? This is their third budget proposal. They put their principles out there twice before (to little effect).
This does give the Republicans something to try and bring up for a vote when whatever budget is finally negotiated between the governor and the Democrats comes to the legislature for debate. It gives them something to be for rather than just being against the Democratic budget.
In any case, nothing remotely resembling this budget will pass. Good for the GOP for coming up with an alternative, but in the end it won’t matter.