Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Talks Continue and Budget Conference Committee Meets.  As I reported earlier, the transportation issue seems to be center stage and almost all other action hinges upon the successful negotiation of the funding mechanism and level of the transportation package.  Negotiations went on for most of the day between the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate Majority Leader as they try to bridge the differences that exist.  The House has flatly rejected any increase in the gas tax and believes that the license fees proposed by the Governor are too steep and cuts the amount raised by that mechanism from $200 million in the Governor's proposal to $100 million.  The House proposal raises the amount taken from the General Fund from $200 million in the Governor's proposal to $300 million.  The House proposal adds $200 million in bonding for roads and bridges as well to reach the $600 million proposed by the Governor.  It is unclear where the Senate is in all of this except to say they are very concerned--as is the Governor--with the amount of money coming out of the General Fund to fund road and bridge projects and transit.

The conference committee on the supplemental budget reconvened this evening and tackled a number of non-budget provisions.  The most controversial item discussed and passed deals with the maximum effort loan program (also known as the capital loan program).  As many of you know, both the House and Senate generated approximately $50 million in spending by anticipating that a small group of districts in the program would choose to repay their loans early, but it is uncertain how many of these districts would actually choose that route.  The conference committee decided to limit one of the advantages of being in the program this evening (perhaps in hopes of persuading these districts to repay their loans), which will certainly be met with resistance from these districts, several of which are members of SEE.  It's certainly something to stay tuned to.

The conference committee will be reconvening tomorrow at some point, but there is some question as to what the final outline of the bill will be and whether or not an omnibus bill consisting solely of language would be pursued.  Just another thing to keep those of us in this business awake at night.

Let's have another "waiting" song.  This one comes from the Kinks with their 1965 hit "Tired of Waiting for You."

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