Budget Woes Left to Tackle

May 20, 2013

Friday, the Senate Finance Committee continued to comb through the budget, and discovered there’s a lot left to fund this session.

To get a summary, Senator Fred Mills asked Legislative Fiscal Officer John Carpenter to detail the five top worries that keep him up at night.

His first answer? 

“That I won’t have a job after the session is over,” Carpenter said.

Then he got serious. Carpenter says the fiscal notes aren’t complete for the entire package of revenue-generating bills attached to the budget.

“To the extent that they generate the revenue that is estimated," Carpenter said, "that’s something I would worry about.”

He’s also worried about the public/private hospital partnerships. The Department of Health and Hospitals has already spent most of the money set aside for agreements with private health providers.

Carpenter said funding for higher education has decreased significantly over the past five years, and though the legislature is trying to provide more stable revenue, damage has been done. Professors are leaving, and schools are having trouble hiring.

Carpenter’s last worry: he thinks that the state has gotten into some bad habits, and doesn’t have enough revenue to sustain its spending.

“We’ve got bills going through this session," Carpenter said, "unrelated to what we’re talking about here, that have a potential negative fiscal impact.”

Carpenter didn’t call out the growing list of tax exemptions by name, but said he’s worried they will continue to “erode the revenue base.”

The Senate will continue to vet the budget next week, and plans to move the budget to the Senate floor by next weekend.