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SEVERAL STATES HOLD SPECIAL SESSIONS TO SETTLE BUDGET DIFFERENCES
© Krantz News Service, June 1, 2015
Budget issues are front and center for several state legislatures as special sessions have been necessary to fund state services.
The Florida legislature begins a special session on Monday, June 1 which will focus on "a state budget, a stalemate over health care and expanded environmental protections mandated by voters in the state Constitution," according to the Miami Herald.
The issue for health care is funding for the cost of treatment for the uninsured, and a proposal to expand Medicaid coverage.
Some opponents of "traditional" Medicaid coverage have signaled their support under certain conditions. The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports an "alternative plan" for the use of additional federal funds, "one that embraces private solutions with flexible steps to eliminate the $1.4 billion cost shift on Florida families and caps Florida's Medicaid budget at 32 percent."
Meanwhile, in Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee called the legislature back into session on May 29 to deal with budget and transportation issues. An initial 30-day special session, costing taxpayers $108,000 in per diem pay and mileage reimbursements, had ended just the day before,
House Democrats in the Washington legislature have offered "hundreds of millions of dollars less in spending," but their proposal still includes a capital gains tax that the Republican-controlled Senate opposes, reports The Associated Press. Other differences remain.
In Arkansas, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed two bills in the state's recent three-day special session:
A bill with national national political implications moves the state's primary to March 1. It will be part of a super Southern primary in 2016, which some are calling the "SEC Primary."
The legislature also passed a bill with incentives to back Lockheed Martin's bid to build a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle for the Department of Defense. One defense analyst termed the legislature's financing package "highly unusual." Lockheed Martin is bidding against Oshkosh Corp. of Wisconsin and AM General LLC, based in South Bend, Ind.