State Budget News

In talking with legislators about budget and health care issues, the frustration is apparent.   That said, two things appear increasingly clear:

1.  The House Democrats appear to be still quite a ways from releasing a budget.  Most of the talk two weeks ago was that the budget would get released on Friday, tomorrow.  But it is now clear that there won’t be a budget released until next week at the earliest.  Apparently, only a few agencies have been discussed in any in-depth manner.

2.  The House Republicans will release their budget on Friday.  And, by the measure of what I heard yesterday, it’s not likely to be more than a political statement.  There was not too much substantive understanding by even senior House and Ways and Means Republicans about what was in the budget.

Neither of these come as a particular surprise.  But it does seem a bit like “fiddling while Rome burns.”  Agency staff across the state – HCA, DSHS, DOH, OFM, etc – are facing tremendous challenges in terms of implementing the ACA.  The marketplace is facing uncertainty at every turn.  It would be nice if the Legislature could at least “first, do no harm.”  But, they are in a very tough spot too, with limited opportunities to help thing move forward.

In the face of all of that, however, there was a good deal of cautious optimism that today’s revenue update would be positive – or at least not as bad as it has been.  “We’re going to get some good news, I think” was heard over and over again.

Stay tuned.