Monday, May 8, 2017

High Drama in the House as Rogue Republicans Team up with Democrats to Bust the Budget

State Representative Susan Lynn - Passage of the budget did not come without tension and drama.  A persistent false rumor started weeks ago that the Democrats had received a $250 - $300 million pay-off from the Governor in exchange for their vote on the IMPROVE Act was exposed as fake news when the final budget released on Wednesday revealed that no such initiative for the Democrats was included in the budget.  A small band of House Republicans had believed the rumor to be true despite repeated denials by the Governor, House Republican Leadership and Republican members of the House Finance, Ways and Means committee.  These same Republicans were additionally disappointed to find that the conservative budget did not contain any of their $285 million in requested earmarks to the budget. 

 
The situation boiled over on Wednesday and culminated in an attempted power play as the small group of House Republican’s decided to caucus with the House Democrats in order make a plan to hi-jack the budget on the House floor on Thursday morning.  Prior to House Session the group filed over $1 billion in budget amendments in order to send the budget out of balance and attempt to strong arm pet projects for their districts. 
 
Their efforts were fought by House Republican Leadership and House Republican Finance, Ways and Means Committee members but the coalition of 28 House Republicans and all of the Democrats was successful at adding nearly $400 million in earmarks to the budget.  As tempers flared the Republican Leadership and Republican Finance, Ways and Means Committee members decided to adjourn the Session and suspend the budget vote until the next morning. 
 
A compromise was achieved the next morning.  The rogue Republicans agreed to strip all of the $300+ million in earmarks from the budget bill in exchange for $55 million that was to kick-off the IMPROVE Act being redirected to the county state-aid road fund – a fund that counties can use for projects on local state roads. 
 
The Senate is expected to vote on the budget on Monday and accept the $55 million compromise. 

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