With a Thursday deadline fast approaching for an agreement on the state’s next budget, House and Senate leaders remain apart on many of the issues that divide them.
Medicaid expansion--perhaps the most divisive single item--remains on hold. So do House-backed increases to the gas and cigarette tax.
The two sides did spar on the Senate’s proposed $50 million so-called back of the budget cut to state personnel. Democrat Mary Jane Wallner, lead House negotiator, opposes the move, and says public services have already been cut to the bone.
"We want our government to be responsive to our citizens, and we are not going to be able to do that if we continually reduce our workforce," says Wallner.
But the Senate’s top budget writer, Republican Chuck Morse, argues that those savings are necessary to fund other priorities.
"When it comes down to it, there’s not enough revenue to do everything everyone wants to do," says Morse.
There was some compromise to be found, however. The two chambers agreed to keep the state’s salt water fishing license fee at its current level.