House and Senate negotiators say they have a deal on a two-year state budget that spends less than the $11.8 billion plan passed by the Senate, which trimmed money from than the $11.9 billion proposal backed by House leaders that failed to win approval in April.
Republican negotiators say they believe the $11.7 billion dollar plan achieves some key goals, policy-wise and politically.
“The Senate and the House basically took the Governor's position, which was to level fund most agencies, and free up some money to put into some of the important campaign promises that the Governor made and I think we followed through on that," said Rep. Neal Kurk, the House’s top budget writer.
The plan would boost spending on mental health care, and fund a scholarship program supported by the governor. It also cuts business taxes and legalizes Keno as way to help school districts pay for full day kindergarten.
Democrats say the state has more money to spend than Republicans chose to.
“If you shortchange yourself on revenues then you can’t spend money where it should be appropriately be spent," said Democratic Sen. Lou D'Allesandro.
But the future of this budget rests on Republicans, particularly in the House, where conservative opposition sank the last budget debated there. GOP leaders say they are optimistic that outcome won’t be repeated.