Several conservative House members don't want to use the rainy day fund -- money the state sets aside for financial emergencies -- at all. They would prefer more cuts to government services instead. Barras will have to convince more of those conservative Republicans to vote for the deal for it to work.This is just a casual observation from me. I've been half-distracted by parades and stuff this week. But it seems like this year Edwards is doing a better job of playing hardball with these guys. He opened the session asking for as much Rainy Day money as was legally permissible. That isn't what he's getting. But he is getting more than he would have had he started out with a compromise offer.
"We've been having meetings individually, meetings by group, meetings to review questions that they have," Barras said.
The current budget deal calls for $99 million worth of rainy day money to be tapped, but both Barras and Alario indicated that wasn't necessarily a firm number for them. "Whether it's $99 million or $98 million, it will be something substantial," Alario said in an interview.
Barras said he was looking at more of a range -- somewhere between $90 million and $99 million of rainy day money -- to be part of the final budget plan. "I hate to quote a number," he said, when asked about much rainy day funding was included in the plan. "In that $90 [million] to $99 million range is the best way to say it."
Moving off the $99 million rainy day fund mark could cause a host of new problems for this budget arrangement. Right now, Barras mostly has to woo conservative Republicans to back his arrangement with Alario. If he budges from $99 million in rainy day funding, however, he might lose the House Democrats he'll need to get the budget plan implemented.
Also, it's interesting to see the Republican leadership as the guys in the delicate position this time around. It almost makes me suspicious. Anyway it's good to see the Governor keep the pressure up. At least for now.
Edwards' office also said it didn't want to support a compromise that used less of the rainy day fund money. "The agreement is $99 million," said Richard Carbo, the governor's spokesman, on Monday night.