Senate Passes Operating Budget Emphasizing Savings, Energy, and Restrained Growth
April 04, 2012
The $9.50 billion Operating Budget emphasizes many of the Senate Bipartisan Working Group’s top priorities: Energy Relief, Savings before Spending, Education, Health and Debt Retirement. The Operating Budget, which is used to run the state’s daily activities and programs, includes $6.28 billion in general funds, $2.01 billion in federal funds and $1.21 billion in other state funds. That’s about $22 million in general funds or about $67 million overall less than the governor’s proposed Operating Budget.
During his floor speech today, Senate Finance Co-Chair Senator Hoffman (D-Bethel) emphasized how the “Savings Spree” began when the Senate Bipartisan Working Group formed in 2006. In fact, in 2005, the balance of the state’s undesignated savings funds was $8.1 billion. Under the leadership of the Senate Bipartisan Working Group, that has now grown to $21.15 billion.
The Senate Finance Committee also achieved a milestone in controlling agency spending. For the past several years, state agencies have grown around 7-percent per year. This year, members of the Senate Finance Committee along with the Administration and the House Finance Committee, worked together to reduce that growth to around 3.6%.
Corrections saw the biggest increase in the amount of actual money due to the Goose Creek Correctional Center for adding 192 news positions, plus other additions for probation offices and substance abuse programs. The Department of Fish and Game saw the biggest increase percentage wise, with 13 new programs added.
Some of the other key provisions added by the Senate include:
124 people publicly testified to the Senate Finance Committee on the Operating Budget. That’s the smallest number in the last four years. The largest number of people came forward in support of Pre-Kindergarten programs, with 26 testifying in support of early childhood learning.
The Operating and Mental Health Budgets will now head back to the House. If the House does not concur with the changes made by the Senate, both sides will appoint conference committees to work out the differences. Once as the conference committees are chosen, the 24-hour rule goes into effect which means that only 24-hours of notice is needed to schedule a hearing for legislation.
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