I’m Senator Bob Huff and this is my Capitol Comment for the week of June 8th, 2015.

Now that the deadline has passed to move legislative bills from one house to another – the focus moves to crafting a state budget for the new fiscal year that begins in July.

The deadline to pass the budget bill is this Monday – and this is one deadline that legislators take very seriously. Thanks to Proposition 25, if the budget bill isn’t passed on time, legislators don’t earn a paycheck. Proposition 25 was sold to voters as the “No Budget-No Pay” Act.

Unfortunately, Proposition 25 also reduced the number of votes needed to pass the state budget from two-thirds to just a simple majority. This means Democrats, who hold majorities in both houses can and do pass budgets without Republican input or votes.

Think of it as a party where you aren’t really invited to attend, but show up anyway.

That hasn’t stopped Republicans from contributing to the annual state budget debate however. We may no longer be included in the so-called “Big-5” negotiations, but we Senators (each) all represent almost a million people, and we do have plenty of good ideas.

That said – Republicans believe the new state budget should reflect the following principles:

· Invest in Education. Keep up with Proposition 98 School funding requirements.
· Save money by investing in the state’s rainy day fund.
· Pay down state debt and pay back what we owe – especially when it comes to pension obligations.
· Invest in transportation infrastructure. Fix our roads and highways.
· Keep Proposition 30 taxes temporary.

While the Governor’s budget proposal is somewhat responsible, it also spends a record amount of money – over $267 billion. This is $13 billion more than last year’s budget. Republicans want this money spent wisely.

Finally – Democrats who control the budget process are also promising full budget transparency. Republicans want a 72-hour window to read and analyze budget and spending bills before any votes can take place.

In the past – legislators were asked to vote on budget bills before the ink on them was even dry. That led to a series of budget mistakes – something both parties hope to avoid this year.

I’m Senator Bob Huff. Thanks for watching my Capitol Comment.

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