Well, the honorables on Jones Street have killed A LOT of trees to try and explain their spending plan for 2016-2017. Republicans will tout it as fiscal responsibility, while Democrats will moan about sick kids and grandmas eating dog food. But let’s get beyond that silliness and take a closer look.
There has been a lot of discussion about putting more money into education for teacher raises and other things. The total education appropriation for 2016-2017 is being revised upward to $12,583,148,885 from $12,168,648,068 that was approved last session.
Where is that money coming from? It appears the answer is Health and Human Services — much to the chagrin, I’m sure, of *my pal and yours* Nelson Dollar. It appears the honorables are looking at revising the total HHS appropriation for 2016-17 downward from $5,267,595,608 to 4,958,374,233. Before folks start hollering about sick kids and grandmas on dog food, consider THIS. Sources on Jones Street tell me that previous appropriations have significantly over-estimated demand for services. So, there is room to back off some — shift money over to other important needs — and still take care of who needs to be cared for.
Justice & Public Safety and Environment & Natural Resources are both seeing changes in their appropriation — but not as significant as those for HHS and Education. (Justice and Environment, unlike HHS, are getting MORE MONEY.)
The total “General Government” appropriation — elections, secretary of state, governor, revenue, the general assembly, the lieutenant governor, etc. — is seeing a bump up to $398,397,335 from the previously appropriated total amount of $375,906,600. Of course, the general assembly is getting the biggest increase of all to its previous appropriation. “State Budget & Management” and “Fire National Guard pensions” were the other big winners in this category.
Overall, the proposal before the honorables knocks the total general fund appropriation up to $22,225,000,000 for 2016-2017 from the total of $21,919,468,078 approved in the long session.
Take a look for yourself at the linked documents. Things are still in the early stages. This has to be agreed on by both chambers of the General Assembly and blessed by the governor. Surely, there is a lot more politicking and wheeling-and-dealing ahead.