Budget negotiations between the House and Senate continue, and several large issues remain unresolved. The biggest sticking points between the two chambers appear to be resolving the Medicaid relief issue for the counties and the proposed expiration of the temporary taxes.
Funding prospects on key environmental programs are looking better. The Natural and Economic Resources Conference Subcommittee on which I sit approved a budget that recommends funding at the House level ($615,000) for emergency drinking water supplies, notification, and testing for low income communities. Farmland preservation is back in at slightly less than $1 million (Governor had proposed $5 million, House- $8 million, Senate-$0). We hope to resolve this at a level closer to the House proposal. The House and Governor are committed to maintaining the State Energy Office (Senate budget had proposed eliminating the office).
Budget chairs are meeting quite frequently with the hope of resolving any outstanding issues in time to have a budget in place by July 1, 2007.