State Legislative Tracker: Budgets taking shape in several states
Edited by Greg Janetka
This week 42 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. No states are scheduled to convene or adjourn this week.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
The following states convened their regular legislative sessions:
- January 17: Alaska, New Mexico
- January 18: Hawaii
- January 23: Utah
- January 24: Minnesota
- February 1: Oregon
- February 6: Oklahoma
- February 7: Alabama
- February 8: Connecticut
- February 13: Arkansas, Wyoming
The following states have ended their regular session:
- February 16: New Mexico
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.
Special sessions were a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts. Overall, in 2011 there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.
There are currently no special sessions scheduled. Thus far, North Carolina is the only state to have held special sessions in 2012.
| Snapshot of State Legislatures: |
Monday, February 27, 2012
|There are 7,384 Total State Legislators|
|Total Democratic state legislators||3,299 (44.7%)|
|Total Republican state legislators||3,973 (53.8%)|
|There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers|
|Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers||36|
|Total Republican Party-controlled chambers||59|
|Total tied or non-partisan chambers||4|
|2012 Session Information|
|Total Special Elections||8|
|Total Special Sessions||2|
As of today, February 27, 2 states' sessions are currently in recess:
- North Carolina - Mid-term recess June 18, 2011 through May 12, 2012
- Pennsylvania - Short-term recess for budget hearings. Senate returns March 5, House returns March 12
New budgets are currently on the top of the agenda in a number of states. Here is an update on recent developments:
- Illinois - Gov. Pat Quinn (D) issued his proposed budget last week. At his address the governor said the plan reduces agency spending by $425 million from last year. However, Republicans were quick to point out that agency spending only relates to the money that Quinn has the most control over, and that the budget as a whole actually increases spending by $50 million.
- Minnesota - The state Management and Budget Office is scheduled to release an updated budget forecast on Wednesday. The last update in December forecasted a projected $876 million surplus, a welcome surprise after years of deficits. Leaders are once again predicting a surplus. If that happens the extra money will automatically go toward rebuilding the state's reserves and helping to pay back money borrowed from K-12 schools.
- South Dakota - Last Friday the Joint Appropriations Committee announced that, due to the improving state economy, revenue estimates for the current year will be approximately $12 million higher than Gov. Dennis Daugaard predicted in his budget proposal back in December. The estimates for the new budget year that begins July 1 show revenue will be some $10 million higher than projected. Republican leaders say the money will most likely go toward education, medical services, or the state's reserve fund.
- Virginia - With the state Senate evenly divided, Democrats and Republicans appear headed for a budget showdown. Republicans used the tie-breaking vote of Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling to claim control of the chamber, but a budget plan will need Democratic support in order to pass. Democrats, in exchange for their support on the budget, want a power-sharing agreement in the chamber. The Senate and House are both expected to vote on their respective budget plans on Thursday.
- Washington - House Democrats released their budget plan last week. In order to meet the nearly $1 billion shortfall, the plan relies on delaying $405 million in payments to schools until the new budget year begins in July 2013. It also cuts $65 million from higher education and $224 million from health care and human services programs. Republicans accuse Democrats of simply continuing to kick the budget problem down the road, ultimately making it worse.
A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.
1,267 (64.3%) of the country's 1,971 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country's 5,413 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 5,984 (81.0%) of the country's 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for re-election during the presidential election year.
- 43 of the 50 state senates are holding elections.
- 43 of the 49 state houses are holding elections.
The 5,984 seats up for election is 146 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.
This week three states have signature filing deadlinesfor candidates running for election - North Carolina, Nebraska (Non-incumbents) and Arkansas. So far, deadlines have passed in eight states - Illinois, Ohio, Texas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Nebraska (incumbents only) and Pennsylvania.
States with upcoming deadlines:
- February 29: North Carolina
- March 1: Nebraska (Non-incumbents)
- March 1: Arkansas
- March 12: Montana
- March 15: Maine
- March 16: Iowa
- March 16: Utah
- March 16: Nevada
Texas had an initial filing deadline of December 19, 2011, but with the newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the districts remain uncertain. The filing process was expected to re-open on February 1, but that date has now been thrown out and a new date has yet to be settled on.
On February 15, the Missouri State Senate gave initial approval to a bill that would push back the candidate filing period from February 28-March 27 to March 24-April 27. The move was due to delays in the redistricting process following the Missouri Supreme Court's decision to throw out the new Senate districts earlier this year. However, the bill stalled and it now looks like the candidate filing will begin tomorrow, as originally scheduled.
- See also: 2012 election dates
The first state legislative primary elections of 2012 are scheduled to take place in March. Those dates are as follows:
- Note: Texas was originally scheduled to hold their primary on March 6. However, with newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the date has been delayed.
The Texas primary was originally delayed from March 6 to April 3, but that date is also out. Party officials are discussing dates in May -- with May 29 as the early frontrunner.  It's possible that both parties could hold primaries on different dates.
- Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled.
2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns are continuing on following (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) are aiming for the August 2012 ballot.
Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senators - Pam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard. Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012.
On February 9, all four senators for recall submitted signatures challenges, but Scott Fitzgerald (R) was the only one to challenge enough individual signatures that, if they were found to be invalid, would end the recall threat. The recall committees submitted rebuttals to the challenges, stating that they "are overwhelmingly baseless." The main argument for the senators rests on a challenge to the size and shape of their districts. Through the once-a-decade redistricting process, the Republican majority drew up and quickly passed new districts last year. Under the legislation, the maps do not take effect until this fall, but Republicans are now arguing that the recalls should take place in the new districts.
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board previously rejected the argument and a federal trial regarding the matter began last week. If it is decided that the recalls should take place in the new districts, then, according to Republicans, enough of the signatures would be thrown out as to end all the recalls as they came from residents who live in the old districts but not the new ones.
GAB has until March 19 to schedule recall elections.
This week two special elections take place in Michigan.
Tim Melton (D) resigned in August to take a position at StudentsFirst, a group promoting public education reform. A special election primary was held on November 8, 2011. A special general election will be held on February 28, 2011.
General election candidates:
Paul Scott (R) was recalled on November 8, 2011. A special election to replace him has been scheduled for February 28, 2011. Candidates were selected by their respective political parties.
Upcoming special elections include:
- February 28: Michigan House of Representatives District 29
- February 28: Michigan House of Representatives District 51
- March 6: Georgia House of Representatives District 107 (Run-off)
- March 20: New York Assembly District 93
- March 20: New York Assembly District 100
- March 20: New York Assembly District 103
- March 20: New York Assembly District 145
- March 20: New York Senate District 27
- April 3: Oklahoma House of Representatives District 71
- April 3: Oklahoma Senate District 20
- State legislative elections, 2012
- 2012 state legislative calendar
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections
- State legislative special elections, 2012
- State legislative recalls
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 StateScape, Session schedules, accessed February 27, 2012
- ↑ WBEZ, "Illinois budget inspires confusing, misleading claims," February 27, 2012
- ↑ Post Bulletin, "State budget forecast is Wednesday, sets the map for Legislature," February 27, 2012
- ↑ CBS News, "S. Dakota lawmakers expect state revenue growth," February 24, 2012
- ↑ Rapid City Journal, "Lawmakers face decisions on budget, bonuses," February 26, 2012
- ↑ WIRC, "Showdown Looms In State Budget Battle," February 27, 2012
- ↑ Boston.com, "WA: House Dems budget relies on delayed payments," February 22, 2012
- ↑ Ballot Access, "U.S. District Court Suspends Some Texas Election Deadlines," January 27, 2012
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Cass County Sun, "Citizens may still register to vote as primary dates remain in limbo," February 26, 2012
- ↑ News-Leader, "Senate approves bill to push back candidate filing deadline," February 16, 2012
- ↑ Southeast Missourian, "Candidate filing likely to begin Tuesday," February 26, 2012
- ↑ Austin American-Statesman "Prepare for primaries in late May, judge signals," February 15, 2012
- ↑ FOX 6 Now, "Recall paperwork filed Tuesday for four senators, including Van Wanggaard," November 15, 2011
- ↑ Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Recall Committees' Brief in Opposition to Written Challenges," February 13, 2012
- ↑ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Senators facing possible recall challenge size, shape of districts," February 10, 2012
- ↑ Mlive, "Auburn Hills state Rep. Tim Melton will resign to take job with national education group," August 30, 2011
- ↑ Michigan Department of State, "2011 Unofficial Michigan Special Primary Election Results," Accessed November 16, 2011
- ↑ Detroit Free Press, "Michigan Republicans vow to reclaim seat of recalled state Rep. Paul Scott," November 9, 2011
- ↑ MLive, "Art Reyes, Democrat who lost to Paul Scott in 2010, considering running in special election," November 10, 2011
- ↑ Genesee County Elections Dept., Official Candidate List, December 20, 2011