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HGOP Wants to Restore Career Ladder, Ag Grants

Republican leaders in the House say they’re big fans of the Senate GOP’s budget proposal, with a few minor tweaks.

Republicans in the state House of Representatives want to make sure programs like the Career Ladder and and money for farm and ranch subsidies are funded with permanent, recurring dollars in next year’s state budget, according to House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower.

After a caucus meeting Wednesday, the Bristol Republican said members want to take those two issues introduced by the Senate GOP Tuesday off the chopping block.

“With that, I think we’re very, very, very close to where they are,” he said of the Senate proposal.

Senate Republican, led by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, revealed their budget plan Tuesday. The pitch included paying for programs like Career Ladder, the $34.5 million merit pay program for teachers, with temporary dollars instead of permanent funds — opening up the possibility of eliminating the program when the money runs out.

The plan also included cutting out $6.3 million worth of agriculture grants.  The funds, which support long-term subsidies in local livestock and farming operations, would drop from $16.3 million to $10 million.

However, members of the House GOP believe both those funds should be restored, Mumpower said.

“The House Republican caucus, I think, is overwhelmingly for a budget that makes some further responsible cuts and doesn’t go too far into the rainy-day fund,” he added. “It’s irresponsible to clean out the rainy-day fund. The situation this time next year is going to be as bad as it is today, if not worse.”

Legislative leadership indicated Thursday that both chambers will conduct Finance, Ways and Means committees next week to hammer out the budget. The House will meet in full session Monday and Thursday, but the Senate will only meet in committee.

Mumpower said he expects the legislature to have a final budget hashed out by the end of the month.

“But hey, ask me again in 15 minutes,” he said.

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