State budget negotiators still searching for common ground
The second day of budget negotiations saw agreements on such things as the fish and game and transportation departments money transfers and the House agreeing to forego its $5 increase for a saltwater fishing license to $15 a year, but not on a $50 million across-the-board cut in state employee compensation and benefits that will cause an estimated 700 layoffs.
She said past reductions in positions have impacted every department in state government.
But Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said the Senate’s budget spends $400 million more than the budget approved two years ago.
“We’re not trying to balance the budget on someone’s back solely,” Morse said. “I’m not sure what message we’re sending today.”
There was no movement on the Senate’s rejection of a 12-cent increase in the gasoline tax or a 20-cent-a-pack increase in the tobacco tax passed by the House.
The House Ways and Means Committee last week increased its revenues estimates $49.2 million more than the Senate.
He said for the budgets from 2006 to 2010, the House Ways and Means estimates were $400 million more than the state realized.
The Senate budget spends about $10.7 billion over the two years while the House budget is $11 billion. Both the Senate and House budgets spend about $2.8 billion in state general funds.
Negotiators’ deadline is Thursday at noon for the Senate and 4 p.m. for the House.
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