Senate seeks to make a better budget

"Rather than wade through perceived problems with the state House of Representatives budget proposal, the Senate this week drafted its second budget of the extended 2000 legislative session.So many Senators expressed concerns about the House budget that they decided to scrap the proposal and try to talk the opposite chamber into a new Senate proposal - although Sen. Betti Sheldon, D-23rd District, was pleased to finally have a House budget proposal on paper. The Legislature is in extended session because of the two chambers' inability to agree on a supplemental budget.It took them 73 days, Sheldon said.We have real concerns with their budget ... We're very concerned with taking monies out of the general fund for ferries, she said. They're eroding our money for education.The House proposal would earmark for ferry maintenance money that would, under Senate plans, go into the general fund and be available for education. Representatives designated lottery money, along with some money from the reserve fund, for education improvements.In addition, House trimming cut money available for child protective services and foster care.The House has been adjourned since March 23, after jubilantly passing their budget proposal March 22 by an 85-13 vote.I think we did a really good job in the House, said Rep. Beverly Woods, R-23rd District. She added that she has problems with a budget the Senate sent March 20, calling it a one-time fix that draws too much money from the reserves.That puts us back here next session with the exact same problems, with $300 million less, she said. Woods said House Democrats required the creation of more programs than Republicans wanted.Several House Democrats said they passed a compromise budget to appease House Republicans with the hope the Democrat-controlled Senate will patch it up.They send us this budget, and then hope we're going to fix it, Sheldon said. I'm glad to hear at least that they admit it's not so good.Senators drafted the new version of the budget to address their concerns.We have another budget we've already put together that does make some of those changes, and (we'll) see if they can accept that, Sheldon said.I would like to see something get done so we can get out of here this week. I'm disappointed it's taken this long, she added."

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