FEIGENBAUM: Prepare for a history-making budget process

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Elections have consequences. Democrats nationally chided Republicans after the 2008 elections. When the outcome was reversed following the 2010 elections, Republicans reminded them of that refrain.

But as elections have consequences, so do other actions, and Hoosier Democrats may find that their solon sojourn in Illinois invokes Newton’s law of political physics: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

 The Democratic walkout during the final week for bills to be considered in their chamber of origin seems to have finally and formally caused the death of dozens of measures, among them HB 1001, the House budget bill. House Republicans believe this is the first time in some 130 years that a budget bill failed to pass the House during the first half of the session.

The apparent inability of the House to move a budget bill across the rotunda to the Senate isn’t by any means a fatal blow to the budget. However, it does complicate the scenario, and offers Republicans an opportunity to exact revenge on House Democrats for exiting.

Should House Democrats not return and play nice, here’s how you might expect things to unfold: The Senate Appropriations Committee, under the leadership of a veteran budget-crafter, Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, could consider a budget bill the week of March 7. The fact that it doesn’t technically exist doesn’t mean much. Kenley can find a live House bill to use as a victim, stripping it and inserting budget language into the shell.

That budget language would be based upon the HB 1001 content as it emerged from the House Committee on Ways and Means, assembled by that panel’s chairman, Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, the dean of House Republicans.

Kenley would work closely behind the scenes with Espich and the Senate Majority Caucus in deliberations. Kenley would not exclude Senate Democrats from the process, and Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, would have to channel any House Democratic input by proxy into final budget language.

Calling this “final budget language” here is not hyperbole. While the budget bill is typically the last measure passed in any given session, the product of countless hours of bipartisan deliberation and debate in conference-committee meetings and quiet talks among the principals out of the white-hot light of the public (and even other legislators), this year’s process will necessarily be different—perhaps even unique in state history.

The new Senate budget bill could then be passed largely (if not entirely) along party lines in the Senate, and returned to the House—assuming it is functioning—for what would ordinarily be a dissent by the original author there. That would send the bill to conference committee to work through differences between House and Senate budget priorities, and allow lawmakers to quietly tuck in a few policy-related items in a line or two that didn’t find a home elsewhere.

But perhaps not this year. The script that may instead play out would find the author concurring with Senate changes, forcing the House into an up-or-down final vote to send the budget to the governor. That takes just a quorum and a majority, and while it could provoke yet another walkout if House Democrats protest their exclusion from the process, that’s probably their sole option to stop it.

Legislative reapportionment could be handled similarly. Senators could strip a House election-related bill, add their version of Senate districts, round it out with House Republican-preferred House maps and a negotiated congressional district plan, and return it to the House for concurrence and passage.

While this might be far more partisan an approach than Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels might prefer on a legislative matter that is effectively a political mission—and one necessarily decided late in the second half of the session due to when the state receives census data—it would serve as the ultimate punishment for Democrats’ holding out.

Depending upon how the bills that were left in limbo thanks to the Illinois exodus are handled when the process resumes, there also will be a limited universe of legislation of any type remaining, reducing options for lawmakers.

For these concepts or specifics to remain alive, they must be inserted in other bills in conference-committee deliberations, and that poses additional problems.

Bills resembling the proverbial “Christmas trees” tend to be viewed with disfavor by legislative leaders, regardless of party, and any added content must be germane to the original bill. This “sniff test” of sorts has been defined more strictly in the Senate. But some wonder whether traditional germaneness principles may be loosened a tad come April, when Senate bill authors start to see hopes for their respective favored measures begin to fade away without a home.

That’s the brutal truth about consequences for Democrats, assuming continued intransigence.

Will Republicans be more beneficent?•


Feigenbaum publishes Indiana Legislative Insight. His column appears weekly while the Indiana General Assembly is in session. He can be reached at edf@ingrouponline.com.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Yes sir keep cashing those 300K a year checks direct to IMS, while millions disappear from the teams like Rahal's. Guess there wasn't enough ka- ching going around to keep Sarah Fisher in business without their "merger". LOL._____.Meanwhile back in Realville the series with the "best racing in the world" drew what appeared to be about 5000 live spectators ( and probably 1500 of those Target "freebies", and was beaten in the ratings by a series that reportedly consists of "parades" and aired while most people are still sleeping. That will generate those big ka-chings for sure. :-). But, hey, as long as the Speedway gets the cash who gives a damn about the teams?

  2. Welcome to PETERSON LOAN AGENCY Company (A Personalized Service for All Your Financial Needs) We, Liberal Investment Company Providers offers loan at a very low interest rate of 2%, we offer Personal loans, Debt Consolidation Loan, Venture Capital, Business Loan, Educational Loan, Home Loan, and Loan for any reason and urgent needs!. with a maximum duration of 30 years. Have you been turned down by your bank? Do you have bad credit? Do you have unpaid bills? Are you in debt? Do you need to set up a business? Worry no more as we are here to offer you a low interest loan. Our loan ranges from $5,000-USD (Five Thousand US dollars) to $50, 000,000.00.(Fifty Million US dollars). We also lend in USA DOLLARS EURO and POUNDS ! Fill in this form and forward it to our email: PETERSONLOANAGENCY@GMAIL.COM 1. Your Full names:_______ 2. Contact address:_______ 3. Country Of Residence:______ 4. Loan Amount Required:________ 5. Duration:_____ 6. Gender:_____ 7. Occupation:________ 8. Monthly Income:_______ 9. Date Of Birth:________ 10.Telephone Number:________ 11. Purpose of loan:_________ Yours In Service, MR PERRY, PETERSONLOANAGENCY@GMAIL.COM

  3. If I could actually get the prices...I would do this on my own. We need laws that force provides to publish the costs they will charge. Everyone else gives you the price in advance...except hospitals.

  4. I was under the impression that fencing is not allowed on a front yard and that on a corner, both sides are considered "front" yards, therefore can't be fenced without a variance. Also impedes the visibility for drivers at the intersection. Am I understanding this correctly? Might be why a fence was not included in the plans and a request for a variance will have to be made?.

  5. I was a big fan of Cowards and Carrots, which I got a chance to see at the show. It's currently on Kickstarter, but the designer also put out What's He Building in There last year, which got a fair amount of buzz.