Although technically it could last another five weeks, there are definitely signs that we're nearing the end of the legislative session!
On the 2017-19 state budget front, while legislators still continue broader discussions around tax reform, members of the Education Subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means went ahead and moved one big piece of the state budget forward this past week-the State School Fund budget.
The State School Fund budget is the largest single appropriation in the state budget, accounting for over 38% of the combined General Fund and Lottery Funds resources in 2015-17. The Legislative Fiscal Office recommendation for the 2017-19 State School Fund budget was to adopt a total funds budget of $8.2 billion, which is an increase over the current service level budget for 2017-19 but far short of the $8.4 billion or better advocates and school districts were asking for in order to avoid having to make cuts in staffing or other areas.
Moving this big budget out now will at least give school districts better information as they finalize their budgets for the next school year, and the hope seems to be that there will be additional funding to add to this base budget for schools in the Christmas Tree bill that passes at the end of the session.
in the House and Senate also closed at the end of last week. Bills that were not acted on and voted out of the "second chamber" (e.g., for a bill that started in the House, the second chamber would be the Senate) and moved out of committee by June 2nd died in committee. Legislators will continue working the numerous policy bills that ended up in the joint, revenue and rule committees until the end of the legislative session, many of which had fiscal impacts that make them less likely to be considered favorably in this budget climate.
The majority of legislative effort in the coming weeks will be directed towards moving bills that passed out of committee through the floors of both chambers and, most importantly, to producing a balanced budget for the next biennium, which has to happen before legislators can go home.