Archive for Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Negotiators strike deal on proposed budget

March 30, 2004

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— House and Senate negotiators agreed Monday on a budget that trims state spending by three-tenths of 1 percent, settling dozens of small issues but leaving big ones unresolved.

The $10.2 billion compromise budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 goes next to both chambers. If approved by both in up-or-down votes, it would go to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

As drafted by three negotiators each from the House and Senate, the budget does not resolve education or transportation spending issues, the two biggest items facing legislators this year. Leaders expect decisions on those services to be made just before the session ends in early May.

Both chambers already had endorsed Sebelius' proposal to give state employees a 3 percent raise and had followed her spending recommendations for many individual programs and agencies.

While negotiators had almost 100 small issues to settle, the job took only one day of talks.

"Truthfully, we weren't that far apart to start with," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.

The negotiated budget provides $8.4 million for Smart Start, which currently receives $3.2 million to serve families with young children in 19 counties with programs such as day care and parent education.

Sebelius had wanted $10 million next year to expand Smart Start statewide. The Senate had sought $9.5 million, and the House had proposed $7.3 million.

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State budget is HB 2675.

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