Charles Arlinghaus: When the government expires at midnight
This isn't 1977, but it is one of the years when a budget impasse is possible. The size of the difference is not necessarily what creates an impasse. In 1977, the recycled two-year budget spent $417 million in general funds. When finally adopted, the total was just $13 million less, at $404 million. This year's budget will be six-and-a-half times as large, at $2.6 billion.
Continuing resolutions are remarkably consistent. The state has routinely adopted a resolution at 1/12th of the previous budget for a one-month resolution. The resolution also typically carries forward all the legal enabling language from the previous budget. Some adjustment may be made for things like employee automatic step increases and other automatic adjustments which are part of state law and don't need reauthorization.
As contentious as competing press conferences and press releases are today, the rhetoric is not nearly as pronounced. Furthermore, with precedents well established, we know what happens, when it has to happen, and the consequences if it doesn't.
Charles M. Arlinghaus is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Concord.
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