(April 25) – The House took final action today on two bills to complete the balancing of the 2016-17 state budget.
“With today’s action we have advanced a balanced budget,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, vice chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee and sponsor of both bills, along with the other five JBC members. “But just because it’s balanced doesn’t mean we’re satisfied.”
SB17-256 effectively eliminates $264 million from funding for the state’s hospitals. SB17-262 cuts general fund spending on transportation in half, to $79 million. Together, the two bills true up SB17-254, the “long bill.”
SB17-256 squeaked by the House today 33-31, with Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, the lone Republican vote despite repeated calls from Republicans to move the bills forward. Rep. Rankin was also the long House Republican to vote for the long bill when it was before the House.
The vote on SB17-262 was 40-24.
Rep. Hamner called on the Senate to pass SB17-267, which would transform the hospital provider fee into a state enterprise, eliminating the hospital cuts, and HB17-1242, which, if the voters approve, would allow the state to invest in a long-term solution for our transportation needs.
“The Senate holds in its hands the keys to ensuring that our hospitals don’t bear the brunt of our budget problems,” Rep. Hamner said. “Now is the time to get serious and act. We’ve given them multiple weeks to move this legislation. Without action by the Senate majority, our rural hospitals and our transportation system will be in a difficult spot. We can do better.”
“We did the difficult work of prioritizing and passing a balanced budget almost entirely without Republican support in the House,” said Rep. Dave Young, also a JBC member. “Now we need the Senate to act on SB267 and HB1242. The ball is in the Senate’s court.”