Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Senate Passes Budget Bill

In a late-night session, the state Senate passed House Bill 2, the $5.6 billion state budget on a bipartisan 34-6 vote. The vote took place shortly before midnight.

The bill, which passed the House last week. It goes back to the House now because the Senate Finance Committee added an amendment to appropriate $5 million in recurring funds -- for drug court, new judge positions and other expenditures -- and $12 million added to the state's reserves. If the House concurs, the bill will go to the governor for signature. If the House doesn't concur there will be a conference committee to come up with a compromise.

Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, proposed a number of additional amendments to the bill. Among them, prohibiting school districts from paying lobbyists, prohibiting schools paying employees who are legislators during legislative sessions, and adding $3.9 million to the governor's early reading initiative. None of his amendments passed.

The entire budget debate on the Senate floor took less than an hour.