Legislator – Revenue Numbers Say Special Session was Unnecessary
Governor Steve Bullock on Wednesday said that $45 million cut from the Department of Public Health and Human Services would be restored now that accurate budget numbers have been released.
Hamilton’s Nancy Balance, the chair of the State Appropriations Committee, said the governor was simply doing what the Legislature ordered him to do, and that the budget numbers revealed that the special session was simply not necessary in the first place.
“The governor may have had some legitimate reasons for calling the special session, but I also think that he needs to own up to the fact that he was 100 percent wrong,” said Balance. He reestimated revenue, said it was going to be $137 million less that what our projections showed, and based on that, called the special session and made the decisions on where to cut the budget. So, I think the governor has to own up to that.”
Balance said one of the chief causes for the special session was to force Republicans to raise taxes, something they steadfastly refused to do.
“It felt as though the reason for the special session was to make the tax plea and get us to raise taxes, and he even brought it up again yesterday,” she said. “He’s even taken it once step further and has worked with Big Tobacco to try and get those taxes in through an initiative on the November ballot.”
Balance said when it comes to restoring money to state budgets, the governor cannot play the hero.
“As far as where to put the money back and restore it, he can’t now claim to rise to the rescue,” she said. “The Republicans in the special session put it in Senate Bill 9 that if the revenue comes in where we always said it would then these cuts would be restored exactly in the proportion that you cut them. So, he had no choice.”
Balance said she would have kept silent and allowed the governor to take the credit for restoring tax monies to the necessary programs, except for one matter.
“To sort of ‘ride to the rescue’ is kind of a false statement,” she said. “I probably would have left that alone until again he blamed the Republicans for having a bad estimate to begin with. The numbers are coming in exactly where we said they would. If he had done nothing, if he had not reestimated, if he had not called a special session, if he had not made the cuts, we would have been just fine.”