With less than a week remaining before the end of the fiscal year, House Democrats suddenly discovered a newly found respect for public testimony, state Rep. Randy Borror (R-Fort Wayne) said Wednesday.
Today was the first meeting of the conference committee for the state's budget, House Bill 1001(ss); Rep. Borror is a House Republican adviser. To begin their work, Rep. Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis), the conference committee chairman, announced the day would be dedicated to public testimony.
"I find it odd the same legislators who organized a Democrat walk-out in opposition to public testimony during our early budget negotiations are now demanding it in the final hours," Rep. Borror said. "Maybe if they had stuck around the first time, some of these folks wouldn't have had to trek to Indianapolis once again to inform our House Democrat colleagues."
On Tuesday, the budget was sent to conference committee when House Democrat leaders filed a motion to dissent to Senate Republican amendments to HB 1001 and passed the motion with a voice vote. Rep. Russell Stilwell (D-Boonville) took the podium moments before the motion passed, insisting legislators did not have enough time to read the Senate's budget proposal before voting.
"Although all members of the General Assembly agree that public testimony is important, those appearing before the conference committee today have already made their case to the House and Senate fiscal committees - some have testified more than 10 times," Rep. Borror said.
"After hearing hundreds of hours of testimony, most from the same special interests, this political move is disheartening. It's time for us to approve the budget compromise passed out of the Senate and agreed to by House Republicans and the governor."
The House is scheduled to reconvene June 29 to vote on the conference committee report for HB 1001. The fiscal year ends the next day.