Special Session Update

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On Tuesday June 28, 2016, the legislature met for the Second Extraordinary Session of 2016. The Governor called this special session to pass legislation related to a revenue shortfall for Fiscal Year 2016. The legislature passed the budget for Fiscal Year 2016 during the 2015 legislative session. These appropriations were set based on a projection of tax revenue. Actual tax revenue received by the state was slightly lower than the estimate, meaning that the state’s general fund does not contain sufficient money to cover the expenses that were budgeted. It is important to note that the state’s revenue was up for this year, as it has been for the last few years. Revenue simply was not high enough to meet the state’s heightened spending levels.

The legislature considered SB 2001, which authorizes the Governor to transfer funds from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to cover this budget shortfall. This allows the state to spend money from its emergency fund to cover increased spending for the fiscal year. Instead of spending money from the funds set aside for emergencies, the state should curb spending to match incoming revenue. The bill was introduced on Tuesday, and several Democratic members used a procedural roadblock to prevent the body from considering the bill until Wednesday. This hurdle caused the legislature to halt business at a substantial cost to taxpayers. I voted in favor of considering the bill on Tuesday to protect taxpayers from this additional cost, but the motion failed. 

On Wednesday, several amendments were offered to the bill, some of which altered the amount the Governor could transfer and some of which directed money to specific agencies. Each of these would allow the state to spend from the Rainy Day Fund to maintain current spending levels. I voted against each of these amendments, and they each failed on the floor of the House. I voted No on the bill, the measure passed 72-38.

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