5:00 p.m.


Senator Steve Ogden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has filed Senate Bill 1, the Senate's version of the appropriations bill. The House version was released last week; it has not yet been officially filed but will be designated as HB 1. The Senate bill is based on similar assumptions - no new taxes and no use of the Rainy Day Fund - but allocates revenues differently. It still provides drastic cuts to education funding, reducing Foundation School Fund dollars (the basic funds distributed to school districts) by $9.3 billion, as opposed to the House's $9.8 billion, and reducing funding for prekindergarten and other grant programs. Both bills would reduce the state's contribution to the Teacher Retirement System to the constitutional minimum of 6.0%, and cut the state's contribution to TRS-Care (retiree health insurance) from the current 1% to .5%.  


Ogden has said he hopes to begin budget hearings as early as next Monday, giving the Senate a head start on the House, which is not expected to form committees for a few more weeks.