By Rocco Pugliese, President
I wanted to provide you with a status of this year’s negotiations for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
First, I predict (well, not really, but it sounds good) that the budget will be signed, sealed, and delivered by July 3rd or shortly thereafter. Please, don’t go out and wager on this prediction, because my failure rate for predicting this past year’s budget impasse was rather high.
Currently, the Governor and Legislature have been meeting, but as of today there is no agreement, since several million dollars separates the two sides. If there could be an agreement to add additional money to next year’s budget, the results would probably translate into additional funding for basic education and funding add-ons for a number of line items, some of which we are advocating for clients of Pugliese Associates.
There will be a tax code and fiscal code this year, which means there will probably be an increase in the cigarette tax and adding cigarette vaping and smokeless tobacco as taxable. There will probably be internet gaming in order to raise money versus tax increases while Video Lottery Terminals (VLT’s) in bars/taverns will probably not happen even though there is decent support for it. Since this will be an election year budget, there will be no broad-based tax increases, which means next fiscal year’s budget will be very similar to this year’s spend, although with a slight increase on the expenditure side..
Although the Legislature will not be in session this weekend, key legislators and legislative staff, along with the Governor’s staff will be meeting; the House and Senate will be in session early next Monday. As we move into the weekend and early next week, we should have a pretty good understanding of the specifics for next year’s budget and will communicate with you accordingly.