Archive for Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Spending spree comes to dead end

House OKs amendments but rejects full bill

April 10, 2002


— Led by Democrats eager to establish education and social services as priorities, the House went on a spending spree Tuesday, more than doubling the price of a capital improvements bill.

But against the backdrop of the state's $700 million budget gap, the amendments ultimately doomed the bill as the House voted 61-57 against advancing it to final action.

The House began with a bill outlining about $50 million in building and repair projects in fiscal 2003, which starts July 1. Most of the projects were financed separately from general government operations.

Some Republicans said the debate had more to do with letting Democrats vent about budget issues than with a serious effort at policy.

"It doesn't matter," said Rep. Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls. "The truth is, we're not going to have the revenue to do all this."

Over the course of a few hours, the House:

l Approved an increase in state aid to public schools by $32 per pupil, to $3,902, at a cost of $18.7 million.

l Added $4.4 million to spending for programs for poor children.

l Voted to provide $17.7 million to school districts with declining enrollment.

l Put an additional $26 million into programs for the elderly, mentally ill and poor.

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