Legislative Counsel Bureau seeks $72.4 million budget

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The Legislative Counsel Bureau is asking for a 7.1 percent increase in its budget to a total of $72.4 million for the coming biennium.

That’s separate from the $15 million contained in the proposed Senate Bill 1 that will pay for the 2019 legislative session.

In addition, LCB Director Rick Combs told the Legislative Commission he’s seeking permission to use $1.84 million in one-shot expenditures for a laundry list of projects.

That total includes $1.72 million for the interim Senate and Assembly staff and operating costs between sessions.

One driver behind the increase, Combs said, is transferring $552,720 in publications revenue from the Legal Division budget to offset the cost of the 2019 session. When that’s figured in, the increase in General Fund drops to 6.3 percent or $4.3 million.

Much of the increased spending comes from the need to upgrade Internet, computer, broadcast and other technical services operated by LCB.

But the Audit Division is asking for three more deputy auditors to improve oversight of the state Medicaid program and child welfare programs.

The Legal Division, the largest of the LCB budgets, will total $21.9 million if approved. That includes grade increases for 16 legal employees.

Research also asks for an upgrade to two positions.

The Legislative Commission budget restores funding for individual lawmakers to attend meetings of national organizations LCB belongs to. That funding was cut during the recession. The proposed budget includes $1,000 per lawmakers per year — a total of $126,000.

The budget also includes $35,000 for interim committee costs.

The one-shot projects include $285,250 for the fourth elevator rebuild and modernizations. This time, the last of the Legislative building’s original elevators, the one outside the Senate Chambers, will be reconstructed. That and the elevator outside the Assembly chambers were installed when the building was constructed in 1970-1971.

The projects list also includes re-roofing of both the Sedway Office building and the legislatively-operated printing office. Combs said roofs of both structures are beginning to fail. The projects will cost $381,135.

Combs also advised the commission he and his staff are looking at a series of 10 projects that will be paid for by reserves in the Legislative Fund. Those projects total just more than $3 million. More than $1.7 million of the total involves replacement of computer network equipment.

Also on the list is $301,000 to replace the voting systems in the Senate and Assembly chambers that have been in use since the 1990s.

The commission approved forwarding the proposed budget to the governor for inclusion in the overall state budget package that lawmakers will begin reviewing just before the start of the 2019 Legislature in January.


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