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Last updateFri, 22 Sep 2017 12am

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    Thursday, September 21, 2017-5:54:07A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Speaker hopes to see compromise budget bill before end of week

SPEAKER Ralph Demapan is hoping the House and the Senate conferees will be able to come up with a budget bill acceptable to both chambers before the end of the week.

Without a new budget on or before Oct. 1, 2017, non-essential government offices will shut down.

Rafael Demapan

The speaker said the bicameral conference committee has been holding meetings since Tuesday.

“The House conferees already have a list of things to discuss with their Senate counterparts and they are now discussing these issues. I am confident that this conference meeting shouldn’t take long,” the speaker said in an interview on Wednesday.

“If the conferees can agree on something by the end of this week, I will call for an emergency session this Saturday to act on the bill,” he added.

The speaker said he and Senate President Arnold Palacios have asked the conferees to come up with a bill on or before Sept. 20 to give the governor ample time for review. The governor submitted his budget proposal to the Legislature in April.

“We are trying to avoid a government shutdown and I am confident it will not happen,” the speaker said. “The conferees don’t want that to happen also, so I am confident they will be able to resolve their differences.”

Demapan added, “Funding should not be a problem — we just have to set our priorities. I hope the conferees can come up with a compromise version soon so that the House and the Senate can act on it.”

Sen. Jude Hofschneider, chairman of the Senate conferees, said in a separate interview: “We are determined to come up with an agreement before the deadline. We are confident we can beat the deadline.”