n the year’s I’ve watched the sausage factory, I don’t believe the budget has ever truly been balanced — except maybe for a brief moment at the beginning of each regular legislative session, when lawmakers pass “deficit appropriations” to cover the bad checks they kited the year before.
Legislative budget leaders often knowingly short agencies’ budgets, or pretend certain expenses don’t exist. For example, the state budget each year pretends that a more than $6 million property insurance bill for state buildings doesn’t exist, but then lawmakers have to pay it as a deficit the following year. It helps “balance” the budget on paper.
Deficit appropriations have been growing. For 2012 they totaled $16 million. For this year they were more than $72 million, or as much as $111 million, depending on how gimlet an eye one casts at lawmakers use of “Budget Contingency Funds.”
But if revenue continues its current slump and Bryant doesn’t force the Legislature to make some adjustments, lawmakers could find themselves with a deficit too large to appropriate for come next January.
I’d say the likelihood of a special session in the near future is a definite probably.