UPDATE: The Senate Finance Committee (yes, that's right, controlled by Democrats) just approved the McNulty plan to reduce the budget target.
The new Speaker of the House threw Democrats a curve ball yesterday when he announced that the House would not blindly endorse the rosy revenue estimates from the Office of Legislative Council.
Instead he proposed a budget target 2.75% below revenue projections. In recent years both Leg Council and the Governor's Office of State Planning and Budgeting have badly missed the mark at times on revenue projections. According to McNulty's press release Leg Council's projections one year ago were off by as much as 17%.
We understand that these projections are complicated, especially as you are entering a recession as deep as this one has been, and Leg Council certainly hasn't done anything intentionally wrong here, but this recession isn't over and we need to get realistic about how much money the state really has to spend this year.
Kudos to McNulty for forcing Democrats in the Legislature to get serious about this budget crisis. The days of balancing the budget by accounting gimmicks and raiding cash funds are gone, and this year hard choices and program cuts will have to be made.