Now the real work begins on Capitol Hill.
The latest revenue projections are in and lawmakers can proceed with the process of putting the state’s $8 billion budget together. $108 million in additional revenue is projected for the current fiscal year. That’s considered one-time money. And analysts think an additional $92 million will be available for fiscal year 2005.
Obviously, that’s much better news than the last few years when regular revenue shortfalls resulted in excruciating belt-tightening. Still, it is hardly enough to fund the many items identified as priorities by various state agencies and legislative committees.
The budget picture is still extremely tight!
In KSL’s view, education must remain the highest priority. We reaffirm our support for Governor Walker’s education initiative, including $30 million to enhance reading programs in the early grades.
To assure adequate education funding, we believe serious consideration should be given to the governor’s proposal to “retrieve sales tax dollars used for roads and water subsidies.” Restoring structural balance to the General Fund, as Governor Walker suggested, still seems a viable way to deal with the budget crunch.
With less than two weeks to get the job done, lawmakers can find some consolation in the fact they’ll have new money to spend, not just existing budgets to trim.