Lessons Learned

Here are a few things I think we may have learned (or been reminded of):

Special sessions are not the preferred way to “do” the budget. By their very nature, budgets are things which must be negotiated; they cannot be crafted anew on the House or Senate floor. A typical (regular session) practice is to pass “dummy” appropriations bills, put them into conference committee, and vote on all the agreed (and, by Rule, un-amendable) conference reports once an overall budget “deal” is reached. Everything technically starts over from Square One in a special session, though members have to ignore that fact and mentally fast-forward to a pretended conference process when doing special session budget work. Still, since procedurally everything starts all over from the beginning, bills can be amended (though conference reports can’t) and any member can require any bill be read aloud (though inapplicable to conference reports). The process inherently is vulnerable to obstruction and delay, especially when pushing an “agreed” deal to beat a “hard” deadline, such as the imminent end of the fiscal year. Bottom line: Budget work in a special session is no fun for anyone, and it is in everyone’s best interests to complete the budget in regular session.

A special session is a gubernatorial hammer to solve an intractable problem.

Rep. Greg Snowden Blog
Clarion Ledger