I got to visit with State Rep. Mark Biviano on Thursday morning for a few minutes, after news broke Wednesday afternoon that the Governor’s budget was moving to the floor of the House without the $21 million in cuts that the GOP leader had proposed. I had hoped to post these comments sooner, while they were fresh, but I’ve been busy. Life happens.
I asked Rep. Biviano to fill us in about what happened Wednesday and where we go from here. He clarified that the budget itself has not actually passed, just a resolution to move the budget bill to the floor. This could not have happened without some Republican support, but now that it has moved to the floor, Republicans cannot stop its passage. Only a simple majority will be needed to send it to the governor’s desk. Biviano predicted the budget will pass with little changes to its current form.
But Biviano said the real story here is the Democrats’ unwillingness to slow the growth government.
The real story is that there’s an unwillingness in the Democrat Party to slow government growth. They’ve characterized our plan as ‘massive cuts with massive layoffs.’ In fact, the Governor’s plan grows government by $163 million. Our plan only grew it by $142 million.
Biviano also said Democrats in Little Rock have proven to be unwilling to compromise and look ahead at the imminent Medicaid crisis.
We’re going to have a Medicaid crisis next year. Republicans were trying to be proactive and look down the road. We asked to slow the growth of the budget by .45%. The Democrats want to continue to grow government but not address these challenges.
Remember, my interview with Biviano was on Thursday morning. On Friday morning, a report surfaced that the Medicaid shortfall may be as much as $400 million, and there appears to be some question about whether or not the Governor was honest with lawmakers (and taxpayers) about how deep the shortfall could be.
As far as where we go from here, Biviano said a tax increase proposal from Democrats is likely imminent.
It will be interesting to see how Democrats plan to pay for the shortfalls. My concern is that their plan is going to have to include a tax increase. They want to continue to grow government. But if we’re not willing to stop the growth of government, how are we going to pay for the $250 million shortfall?
I don’t think anyone believes that there’s not some waste in our state government, whether you’re Republican or Democrat.
As I told Rep. Biviano, this is yet another example of Obama-style governing being implemented in the state–run up the bill, create a crisis, and then call for a tax increase. Taxpayers can only hope we have a strong enough Republican caucus in both house of the legislature next year to stop any tax hikes. The next battle is at the ballot box.
I have attempted numerous, numerous times to contact Searcy Police Chief Kyle Osborne, Biviano’s 2012 opponent, for comment on these types of issues facing the state right now. Taxpayers would like to know if he supports Governor Beebe’s plan to continue to grow government. Thus far he has not responded. I am still hopeful that he will sit down for an interview with me, as he promised a few weeks ago.