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Budget negotiations moving again; lawmakers to get an update

Lawmakers will get a briefing this afternoon about the progress of budget negotiations with the governor.

This is the first concrete sign of movement on the budget front since talks over the state’s final spending plan began several weeks ago.

But Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs tried to downplay expectations.

“This does not mean a budget is imminent, although I would love for a budget to be imminent. But I just don’t believe it is yet,” Biggs said.

Biggs said members have been wondering about the progress of the discussions with the Governor’s office. The briefing will provide them a “bird’s eye view” of the talks.

“We are not even talking line items or anything like that,” the majority leader said, adding he also wanted to use the occasion to refresh members’ memories about their own budget, which they passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier.

The governor and lawmakers had offered competing budget plans that the two sides are now trying to reconcile.

The governor wanted to set aside some of the “surplus” revenue the state is projected to have for an array of new spending initiatives.

The lawmakers’ budget, however, sought to maintain the current spending level and set aside any “surplus” money to be used to fill any spending gap once the 1-cent sales tax increase expires in about two years.

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