Governor Owens Lays Out New Budget Plan

Transportation and education are just some of the big–ticket items Governor Bill Owens addressed at the Joint Budget Committee meeting Monday morning. In his presentation Governor Owens said it's the Joint Budget Committee's task to restore cuts and invest in the state's future now that Referendum C has passed.

The governor proposed two supplemental budget items for this fiscal year. They included allocating $10 million for the Low–income Energy Assistance Program and $10 million for the state's tourism budget.

In the governor's proposed budget for 2006 to 2007 Owens recommended that revenue retained under Referendum C be distributed in equal parts to higher education, per–pupil funding for 'K' through 12 and Medicaid premiums.

For higher education Owens suggested the college opportunity fund stipend be increased by 7.5%. This would increase financial aid by 6% and overall general fund appropriations to higher education would increase 10.2%.

This would result in a total general fund appropriation to higher education of more than $659 million. If this budget is adopted it would be the largest total budget for higher education in the state's history.
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