On budget talks, Cretul lays down the law
[Photo: Scott Keeler, Times]
House Speaker Larry Cretul invited budget negotiators into the chamber Tuesday afternoon for an informal discussion about what he called "the work that we've all been waiting for." He said he was happy that the budget allocations reflect the House's priorities, including attention to the need reserves after the stimulus "flameout." (About a third of the 120 members attended.)
Cretul issued some very specific instructions -- what he called "things you cannot do" -- to House budget negotiators: All nontechnical proviso (budget policy) language must be included in all public documents. No member projects allowed. Don't accept any Senate member projects.
House members can't propose fees that did not already pass the House or Senate. No changes to pay or benefit issues for state employees. No general revenue appropriations in the back of the bill -- typically listed there because they are last-minute deals. Finish by noon Friday. Bump all unresolved issues to budget chairs Marcelo Llorente and David Rivera.
"I have complete faith and confidence in you," Cretul told the group.
Rep. Ron Saunders, an at-large Democratic budget negotiator, criticized the continued lack of openness by the House. "I couldn't even ask a question. I had to run Larry Cretul down to ask him until (chief of staff) Dudley Goodlette rescued him," Saunders said.