The Senate has given the House a tough decision.
Senators rewrote the representatives’ version of the budget, re-allocating arguably unstable funds that the House had painstakingly removed. But it may be hard for representatives to vote against the budget.
That’s because it sets aside $50 million for a one-time salary bonus for public school teachers.
The budget now fully funds two hospitals that are set for privatization and the state voucher program, the funding mechanism of which recently came under scrutiny in a State Supreme Court case.
Sen Karen Carter Peterson cast the sole dissenting vote Saturday, voicing her distaste for the Administration’s involvement in the budget process.
“We are going to have to stand up as a separate but co-equal branch of government to do something better for the people of this state. But this is a trap, and it’s a trap of our own design," Peterson said.
Peterson called the budget “a budget by default.” But Sen. Jack Donahue, who shepherds the budget through the Senate, said the budget’s been in the works the entire year.
“Everybody’s politics comes together and works for the betterment of the state. And I like the way that works. And I like this budget," Donahue said. "And I’m proud of this budget. And I’m tired of people telling me it’s not a good budget. It is!”
Next year’s budget needs a two-thirds vote to pass in the House. If it fails, the chambers will meet in a conference committee to negotiate their differences.
Sunday, the House killed a bill that would add money that’s needed for this year’s budget. There’s another bill in the Senate that could take its place.
Lawmakers have four days left in the session to get it all done.