This year, Senate Democrats were the first to draw the line on education, proposing a budget that did not cut K-12 schools, state colleges or universities. That stand was reflected in the final budget signed into law -- the first budget in four years to fully protect education in our state.
Getting there was not easy. From the time the last budget was approved in 2011 to the start of a special legislative session in November, revenue forecasts had dropped by $1.7 billion.
The solution to that challenge included the nearly half-billion-dollar early action package passed in December, improving caseload and revenue outlooks for the state, reductions to some state services, fund transfers and accounting changes, and some targeted revenue, such as equalizing taxes on roll-your-own cigarettes.
After the governor vetoed specific provisions of the budget, the state has a projected reserve of $311 million.
The budget was carried in HB 2127. You can find more information here.
Since 2008, the Legislature has reduced state services by more than $10 billion. Where possible, legislators have made programs more efficient and reduced expenses, such as closing the last island prison in the United States in favor of less expensive facilities, and consolidating the functions of five administrative agencies, like printing and personnel, into a single department.