Lawmakers quarrel over transportation budget; Speaker calls out Senators


It has been a long two days of deliberation over the transportation budget. Lawmakers are trying to work out their differences over what is in it, how it will be funded and to what extent.

As the deadline to get a state transportation budget is quickly approaching, a handful of lawmakers are hashing out the details on a deal.

As of Thursday afternoon, progress was being made at coming to consensus, but some lawmakers and the governor were not quite on the same page.

Thursday, the transportation budget conference committee came to order and then recessed for most of the day as negotiations behind closed doors were conducted.

State Senator Nickie Antonio, one of two Democrats on the committee of six lawmakers, says the leaders of both parties are heavily involved in those negotiations.

“Everybody’s talking, trying to figure out what it is, where could we land,” Antonio said.

Ultimately, compromise is the goal and not just between political parties, but both chambers need to find common ground too.

Speaker of the House Larry Householder pressed the issue Thursday by saying, “When you come here you got to put on your big-boy pants. You gotta pull your binky out of your mouth and you gotta make tough decisions. This is one of those tough decisions.”

Senate GOP Communications Director John Fortney responded to Householder’s barbs with his own statement, “Sometimes the rhetoric just comes with the territory. Senators are more concerned about the people who pray that last quarter of tank gets them to payday instead of funding bureaucrats and special interest lobbyists.”

When this all started, all three Republican groups (Senate, House and governor) were on a different page.

As of Thursday afternoon, the House and the governor had cut a deal. The Senate wasn’t on board, however.

According to some lawmakers, there are several state representatives who want to get this done tonight because of previously scheduled commitments Friday and this weekend.

The hearing to finalize the compromise budget was scheduled for 9 a.m. but was delayed several times until 6 p.m.

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