A major player in the upcoming legislative budget battles has a much brighter outlook than others who are assessing the fiscal outlook for 2005. House Budget Committee Chairman Carl Bearden of St. Charles says those predicting deep budget deficits haven’t adequately considered the impact of a rebounding economy. Bearden doesn’t believe there will be a deficit, conceding only that if certain circumstances arise, the state could fall between $150-Million and $300-Million short of the money needed to fund current programs and services. But Bearden says, even under his scenario, the state would still be limping along with no new money for schools. Bearden refused to sign the Concensus Revenue Estimate agreement last year, the target traditionally used by the Administration, the Senate and the House on which to build a budget. Bearden says he will try to reach agreement this year, though he isn’t making any promises.
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