Budget Line Items Revealed

The budget deal was reported from conference committee tonight (the deal had already been worked out behind the scenes, the conference committee just reported what was handed to them).

Among the details and answers to our questions:

The total budget is $27.477 Billion, (previously reported at $27.494); this includes $315 million for mass transit, which is being put into a separate fund, but still being taken from the same funding source (the sales tax). For no logical reason, the Governor and several lawmakers have acted as though this money were being cut from the budget. It is not, and must be included in the spending increase, which is a 5.2% increase.

The Governor’s $75 million for Pre-K Counts does in fact get a separate line item; allowing for an unfunded mandate, a ballooning cost in future years, and undermining private options and choice in preschool education.

The WAMs (Walking Around Money) are back in the budget (see below). Ordinarily, in a “compromise” you would expect to split the difference—that is, take the Governor’s proposal with $110 in WAMs and the $20 million from the Senate budget and come up with a number somewhere in the middle. Instead, it looks like they took the two, added them together, and multiplied by two—and came up with $252 million in WAMs.