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The budgeting process proceeded last week. The Senate and House are working on their initial proposals. The Senate and House have 7 different budget subcommittees that are responsible for various parts of the state budget. As I have reported before, I chair the Senate Justice Systems budget subcommittee. Our subcommittee handles the budgets for the courts, prisons, public safety, Attorney General and Indigent defense among others.

Initially, the Senate and House leaders make their proposals. Ultimately, the Senate and House leadership then negotiate to arrive at the final numbers. We must pass identical budgets in the Senate and House that are signed by the Governor before we have an actual budget. Since Republicans gained control of the Senate in the 2017 session, our proposal has been the lowest of the three. We have then arrived at a figure between the Senate and House initial proposals.

This year the initial Senate proposal is a total of $7.9 billion, an increase of $193 million over last year. The Governor proposed a total of $8.1 billion.

In my part of the budget, we are proposing a total of $190.9 million for an increase of $6.3 million for the courts. There are 3% increases for all judge salaries. For the rest of our part of the budget, we propose a total of $595.6 million, for an increase of $10.6 million over last year. A total of $6.3 million of that increase goes to the prison system. We propose an increase of $4.4 million for the Department of Public Safety. There is a decrease of $500,000 to transfer funds to the judicial branch to pay for translators and interpreters. There is no net change to the state because there is a corresponding $500,000 increase to the Judicial Branch. The big majority of our budget goes to pay salaries. There is always pressure to make it possible to give cost of living increases.

I have concentrated on this part of the budget because that is the part that I am personally involved in. There are similar discussions going on in the areas of education, healthcare for low-income people, mental health funding, and the rest of the budget. This may be more detail that some are interested in. However, I thought some might be interested in how we go about putting together a state budget.

Carlisle Chamber Forum

I will be attending the forum sponsored by the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, April 24, at the Wild Cats Athletic Center, at 430 School Street. Others attending will be Representative Brooke Boden, Warren County Supervisor Crystal McIntyre, Carlisle Mayor Drew Merrifield, and Carlisle Schools Superintendent Bryce Amos. The public is invited.

Author: Julian Garrett