Drive Toward Final Budget Vote Stretches Into Night
Legislators still intend to finish their work for the year tonight, but it's taking longer than expected.
House and Senate leaders say the first printed version of the budget bill had several areas which didn't quite line up with what negotiators on one side or the other thought they'd agreed on. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) characterize the omissions as typical glitches in printing the massive bill, not areas of disagreement.
One missing passage is language the Senate requested, authorizing Governor Pence to negotiate the conditions of a possible Medicaid expansion with the federal government. Bosma says he believes that language is unnecessary, but says the House has no problem with including it, depending on how it's worded.
Long says bills to expand Indiana's voucher program chart the future of the Common Core education standards and to give the Indianapolis Motor Speedway financial help are on track for approval, but final agreements haven't been signed and printed for votes yet. Negotiators are still trying to work out a bill to help Indiana's casinos. Long and Bosma agree live table games at the state's two horse-racing tracks and permission for riverboat casinos to move inland will not be part of the final agreement.
Because the legal deadline to adjourn isn't until Monday, legislators can stay on the job past midnight if necessary. Bosma says he wants to avoid making everyone return on Monday if at all possible.