Senate budget writers largely agreed with an amended 2010 state budget that passed the House last week, but made several changes that will require negotiations nonetheless.
The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a $17.4 billion budget for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.
Among their changes, senators propose adding $1.8 million back into the Department of Revenue’s budget to allow the agency to employ a second and third shift of temporary workers to process income tax returns.
Senate Appropriations chairman Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) also said the Senate version includes at least $600,000 in savings by moving the state from embossed to flat license plates that are produced digitally.
Department of Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham, whose agency oversees license plate production and sales, said it would save the state time and money.
Hill said the other major change in Senate budget deals with payments to private hospitals who participate in a particular state program. The governor had budgeted $8.6 million for the system; the House upped that to $14.5 million.
The Senate zeroes that out for this fiscal year budget said it plans to add the money into the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The amended 2010 budget should hit the Senate floor this week. Assuming it’s approved there, it will go to conference committee where House and Senate negotiators will hammer out a compromise.
But, there is some speculation that conferees might take their time to see if state revenues begin to rebound. The budget as passed by the House is already $234 million out of balance because January’s revenue collections were well below estimates.
If that new deficit is not countered by rising revenue collections, lawmakers will have to make further cuts.