Republicans blocking spending bills | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Republicans blocking spending bills

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 3:50 PM

I have some calls out, but many House Republicans mounted something of a concerted effort today to stop some spending bills.

At least three bills were defeated for failure to achieve the 75 percent vote required for passage of appropriation bills. They provided money for the Crime Lab, the Arkansas History Commission and the Ethics Commission. Needing 75 votes, the bills got, respectively, 65, 53 and 67 votes.

Only 53 votes for the History Commission? Nearly all the no votes are Republicans. Not all Republicans are voting no. Six to eight didn't vote, which has the same effect, however. There are a scattering of crossovers. Republican Rep. Davy Carter, for example, voted for the bill.

Will update when I can.

UPDATE: By one account, this wasn't an "orchestrated" effort. But, there is some interest in a zero-increase budget, I was told, and the three agencies affected had small increases. If 26 people get serious about that, well, it could mean trouble someday for non-education agencies (education is exempt from the 75 percent rule.) Real trouble for those agencies that buy a lot of gasoline.

However, the votes have gotten the attention of Democratic leadership. If the Republicans are just sending a message that they want to have a voice in the budget, that's one thing. If they're angling for GIF money, that's another thing. But if they intend to declare that 26 people will control the budget, I think they can expect a strong reaction (if they haven't heard it already.)

Note that the History Commission budget was beaten over a $32,000 increase on a roughly $1.9 million budget. That's not what you call out of control spending. And it was tied specifically to the higher rent payment in its new building. Perhaps the Republicans would put them and their archives on the street.

SIDE NOTE: The Republican clique didn't hold on the House's own appropriation bill, with legislative expense payments and all. It passed, with only two or three votes to spare.

Cooler heads remind that appropriations are only authority to spend, not actual spending. The revenue stabilization bill could affect whether full appropriations are funded.

Republican Leader John Burris comments by e-mail: "No real organized effort. All bills had General Revenue increases. Until tax cut bills are settled, scrutiny on spending will be an issue."

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