“I will not sanction growing our state government as fast as our economy,” Gov. Butch Otter told a joint session of the Legislature, which is assembled in the House chamber along with state elected officials and Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges. “I will continue to work for greater efficiency, effectiveness, stability and predictability in fulfilling the proper roles of government. Our shared commitment to those principles has seen us through some tough times, and it remains our best path forward.”
That’s why the governor is proposing a general fund budget with only a 2.5 percent increase in ongoing spending. Overall, the governor’s budget proposal totals $2.885 billion in state general funds, a 3.7 percent increase from the current year’s $2.781 billion. But that includes a number of one-time expenditures, including deposits into rainy-day funds. Under the governor’s proposal, public schools would see a 2.9 percent increase in general funds, 2.4 percent in total funds. The entire budget in total funds reflects a 2.5 percent increase.
The governor’s budget includes no money for raises for state employees, and none for raises for teachers. But he does call for a $54.7 million allocation to start implementing his education stakeholders’ task force recommendations, including a $35 million “down payment” on restoring more than $80 million cut from the schools through the economic downturn.
“The diverse membership effectively put aside politics and personal agendas in developing recommendations that I enthusiastically endorse,” the governor said of his task force.