May 26, 2004 – The Senate's amended version of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's fiscal year 2004 supplemental budget reached the governor's desk on Wednesday, 15 days after the legislators approved it on May 11.
Ascertaining the whereabouts of the elusive document was a challenge this week. Senate President David Jones was not available for comment Tuesday or Wednesday. On Tuesday, no one in the legislative legal counsel's office could say when it would be forwarded to Government House. The final document requires the signature of Jones as president and of Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone as the Legislature's secretary.
The supplemental 2004 budget may be sharing desk space with the governor's proposed fiscal year 2005 budget for the executive branch. Government House spokesman James O' Bryan said on Wednesday that the FY 2005 budget should be ready to submit to the Senate by the May 31 deadline.
Referring to earlier comments made by the governor's fiscal officers that the 2005 budget would be ready by Friday, O' Bryan said he doubted it would be, "but we expect it to be ready before the deadline" which would be Monday. O 'Bryan also said the FY 2004 supplement budget arrived at Government House on Wednesday.
The governor by law is to submit his proposed executive branch budget for the next fiscal year to the Legislature by the end of May. Now, meantime, he has 10 working days to act on the supplemental FY 2004 budget. With Monday being Memorial Day, a government holiday, that would make the deadline June 10.
The chances of Turnbull accepting the entire supplemental budget as amended by the Legislature are not good. He had proposed appropriating $2.8 million for teachers' negotiated raises; the senators raised that ante to $11.8 million. And they added $9 million more to pay firefighters, nurses, police officers and other government workers — all negotiated raises that in many cases have been owed for years.
The raises dominated several days of debate earlier this month as majority and minority senators battled to reach accord. The Legislature finally approved a heavily amended supplementary budget on a 12-2 vote with Sens. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Usie Richards voting against the measure. Sen. Lorraine Berry was absent from the session for medical reasons; however, she stated later that had she had been there, she, too, would have cast a nay vote.
Berry said she wasn't sure the raises could be sustained. In a previous Rules Committee meeting, she had referred to appropriating funds for the raises as a "recipe for disaster."
The supplemental budget consists of appropriations for the current fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, which are above and beyond the appropriations for this fiscal year that are identical to those appropriated for FY 2003. The Senate approved an FY 2004 budget last November; the governor vetoed it in its entirety in December. He then announced that the budget enacted for FY 2003 would remain in place for all of FY 2004 but that he would shortly propose supplemental appropriations. His proposal was formally received by the Senate on May 3.
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