This past week House Republicans unveiled their proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Obviously, as a member of the majority party, I view this budget as a more balanced and sustainable approach than that offered by the Democrat-controlled Senate. For starters, the House budget protects priority services in the areas of education, health and human services, and public safety while at the same time spending less than what the state will take in.
The House budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014 comes in at $6.4139 billion which provides a modest increase in the state’s General Fund spending (3% over last year’s level) and continues the practice implemented two years ago of aligning spending with revenue. While revenue growth is currently ahead of projections, there is a great deal of uncertainty about future revenue due to the on-going drought conditions, slow economic growth, and the federal budget situation.
The House Republican budget makes fully funding state commitments a priority, such as property tax credits and obligations for mental health equalization funding. This budget also includes funding necessary to maintain our commitment to education; including the funding necessary to allow our universities to freeze tuition, $10 million to community colleges, and a two percent increase in supplemental state aid for local schools.
Contrast that with the Senate Democrats’ budget proposal which spends almost $500 million more than the House Republican plan.
The Senate Democrat budget represents nearly an 11 percent increase over last year. If signed into law, state revenues would need to grow at 6.3% to maintain their level of spending. As a point of reference, the annual revenue growth has averaged 3.34% over the past twenty years.
This initial offer by Senate Democrats is neither reasonable nor sustainable as it spends $1.05 for every dollar the state collects. The House Republican proposal spends $0.98 of every dollar collected.