House Looks To Move Final FY ’22 Budget Now
June 29, 2021
The Republican-led House, frustrated that negotiations with the GOP-led Senate have not yielded more consensus, passed its own Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget on Thursday in the hopes the Senate will get on board later this week.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Tom Albert (R-Lowell) and Budget Director Dave Massaron emerged from a House Office Building meeting room around the noon hour. The word is the administration looks favorably on what the House passed Thursday.
The plan would be to pass another supplemental later in the summer that spends the remaining federal COVID money.
The issue from the House leadership side is they feel as if Senate leadership isn’t serious about moving a Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget by July 1, according to a source. Allegedly, there’s more interest in brinkmanship and preventing the Governor from scoring a bipartisan “political win” as opposed to getting something done and the money spent.
However, another source with knowledge of the negotiations quipped in response that, “It’s easy to spend money quickly. It’s hard to spend money well.”
Another issue is what is clearly emerging as a personality clash between the efficient, chip-chop Albert and the big-picture, grand strategy guy, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Stamas (R-Midland).
An issue on the Senate side continues to be linking the budget to policy bills that would limit the power of the Governor and her administration from issuing emergency orders during a public health crisis to 28 days. This is a non-starter for the Governor. And so, the Texas standoff continues.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declined Wednesday to call out the Senate or anyone in particular when given an opportunity to point fingers on the budget-deal delay.
The Governor did sign a $2.2 billion federal COVID supplemental spending plan this morning (SB 0037) that mostly helps the poor with food and rental assistance. It also reimburses emergency agencies that responded to the spring 2020 Midland-area dam failures.
Local governments are also splitting up $322 million for COVID-19 recovery activities.
What the Governor had hoped to sign was HB 4421, a $4.37 billion supplemental for schools that’s being held up in the Legislature over whether school districts with a lower percentage of poor students should receive $1,093-per-pupil “equalization payments.”
But when given the opportunity by reporters to lambaste the Legislature for gumming up the budget, Whitmer didn’t bite. Instead, she talked about the “Herculean task” of allocating billions of additional federal funds and new state revenue.
The Governor said Stamas and Albert are having “robust conversations” with Massaron.
As to whether finishing the budget by the Legislature’s own statutory July 1 deadline is possible, she said; “it would be great if we could get it done on time.”
“We’re at the table. We’re making progress. Sometimes it moves fast. Sometimes it feels like you’re going a little bit backward, but we’re going to stay at the table until we get it done,” she said.
On the specific item at hand, the Governor said she supports building equity into all her budgets. She’d prefer to see the money in there, but “if it’s not, it doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. It just means it’s not in this version. I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to throw in the towel.”
Over in the Senate, the word is Republicans are making passing an education supplemental a “priority.”
Outside of Thursday and Wednesday of this week, the Senate is not scheduled to meet again until July 15 and July 27.