(KCPW News) The longest serving lawmaker on Capitol Hill, retiring Democratic Senator Mike Dmitrich, confirmed in a press conference yesterday what state agencies have likely already surmised. They won't see the worst of the state's budget cuts until next year.
"And thank God I'm not here," Dmitrich says. "But I think it is going to be a very trying enough time. And I'm glad that public ed. is held harmless for that time. But the real decision-making, the real hurt, is going to be in 2009."
While the Senate Minority Leader won't be here to administer the cuts, there's a chance a good many other lawmakers won't either. Half the lawmakers in the Senate and the entire House are up for reelection this November. And in this election-year special session, Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble says there's a renewed spirit of cooperation uniting both parties to get the budget balanced.
"We're finding we're working together to achieve a budget resolution, rather than some of the animosity," Bramble says. "There's still going to be some issues we're going to have some robust discussions on. But this is different, the atmosphere is different, than we've seen in the last eight years."
If Bramble is right, the Legislature should adjourn tonight with a readjusted budget in hand, ready for the Governor's approval. State law requires a balanced budget and revenues this year fell more than $272 million below expected levels. Last year's budget also closed in the red, bringing the total cuts closer to $350 million dollars.