Sitting in Senate Finance yesterday, and listening to Robert Duncan present his proposals for non-tax revenue, was pretty discouraging. The sum was well below the hoped-for $5 billion. I’m not blaming Duncan, who has carried an heroic load this session. Rather, it was just the sense that the Senate budget is stuck in the mud. I was on KXAN’s Sunday morning Politix broadcast and was asked if I thought there was going to be a special session. I said I didn’t know, it was too early to say, but most of the Capitol community doesn’t like special sessions. It’s not just the disruption of vacation plans (NCSL, ALEC). It’s the heat. It’s spectre of thousands of teachers rallying outside the Capitol every day. But it seems almost unavoidable. Just six weeks left and the Senate can’t get a bill to the floor, much less to conference committee. The House is locked down on its minimalist budget. Even if the Senate reached agreement on its bill, the House and the Senate remain far apart. Everybody knows the situation: a coalition of Democrats and rural R’s can block the budget; even if the block were lifted, the Senate can’t fund its budget. The two houses are so far apart it’s as if the Senate is using francs and the House is using yen. All of this means that the likelihood of a special session increases every day, and the window to escape it is closing fast.
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