Friday was the 40th day of the 60-day legislative session. Unbelievably, this week we have had good fiscal news. Last Friday we learned that the number of people requiring public services would drop–to the tune of a $340 million reprieve for the state budget. On Thursday we learned that, for the first time in 15 quarters, the state will take in more tax revenue than expected–$98 million more. A pittance, to be sure, but still, up.
The bottom line? A little latitude in decisions about which areas of state government to cut. There seems to be concensus that four-year institutions have more than taken their share of cuts–more than 50% of state funding in three years. The governor proposed a revenue package to forestall — or backfill — anticipated cuts of $160 million. Now lawmakers have that much room and more to cut higher ed a little slack.
Last week was another key deadline for bills. Senate bills had to be out of the Senate and House bills out of the House. Budgets are due out this week!