With less than one week until the beginning of a special session to tackle the state budget, potential solutions are beginning to take shape. State Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, and State Sen. Ryan Gatti, R-Bossier City are looking at proposals and counting votes leading up to the session.
“There is some agreement between the Governor and the Speaker on some things but there will be some debate coming because we need the votes from the members,” Reynolds said.
“I believe that until we get in Baton Rouge, it is hard to get a real idea on the vote count.”
Gatti wants to address more than just the immediate budget issues while in session.
“I’ll push for passage of the “Ohio checkbook”, work requirements for Medicaid recipients, funding for TOPS, revamping and updating the delivery system for state services and protecting locally owned businesses and small businesses,” Gatti said.
The “Ohio Checkbook” is an online program whereby the public can see how every dollar of the state budget is spent – in real time.
Meanwhile, Reynolds said there are several debates that will take place regarding the “fiscal cliff,” the $1 billion budget shortfall created by expiring taxes, among other factors.
“The big debate will be to use or not use part of the ‘clean penny’ for two years until we realize the benefit of the federal tax cut estimated to be around 250 million,” Reynolds said.
“The other debate will be about cleaning or removing exemptions from the existing four pennies [of state sales tax.]”
Reynolds added there are also some long-term fixes ready to be discussed, but their future is up to the Ways and Means Committee in the House. “The reality is no matter what is proposed It must get out of the Ways and Means Committee,” he said. “We can’t pass anything until it gets to the floor.”
Reynolds took to Facebook Monday to share his concerns and solicit the help of constituents. “You need to encourage the members of that committee to allow these ideas to pass to the full House where debate and amendments can happen.” he said.
The Special Session begins Feb. 19.