Monday, July 30, 2007

Less than nine days left?

State Comptroller Daniel Hynes says he only feels comfortable keeping his office in operation until August 8 if the state legislators and the governor can’t agree on a state budget by then. He said in a Statehouse news conference Monday that August 8 is the first day his office needs to cut the checks in order for 4,900 employees to get paid on time and for public schools to get $170 million’s worth of state aid on time to start the school year.

“It’s frustrating. It’s perplexing. It’s embarrassing, and it’s inexplicable,” he said. “I mean, I go home and I don’t really have an explanation for people. But my primary focus right now is to get people to feel comfortable about the fact that government will operate. There’s no reason to have this atmosphere of fear and anxiety out there, state employees not knowing whether to come to work, whether they’ll be paid for their work, people who do business with the state.”

His message was similar to what he said in June before the legislative leaders and the governor agreed to a one-month, stopgap budget that got us through July.

This time, however, the legislative leaders aren’t interested in another one-month budget when this one expires July 31. Then again, the leaders also aren’t quite ready to move pieces of a full-year budget by the time the temporary budget expires tomorrow.

But they do have eight full days before Hynes’ warning applies. A full-year budget in the first week of August is possible. As celebrated as that would be, I’d have to miss it. I’m taking the next couple of weeks off to get married and to take our honeymoon in Germany. Let’s cross our fingers that a state budget will be in effect by the end of August.

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