The following takes place between 12:59 p.m. and 1 p.m. Events occur in real time.
“The House and Senate are about to go back into session. We need to get a budget wrapped up today. Get me Jack Bauer. Two of the unions’ sacred cows — liquor and pensions — are eating way too much of the budget. I need to sell one and put the other on a long-term diet — you know like the private sector.”
“Governor, Bauer is still busy saving London and the world from terrorists. I don’t think he’s going to get here in time to reform the commonwealth’s public-sector retirement system and privatize liquor stores. Plus, I don’t think he’s a real numbers guy.”
“And sir, the clock the ticking. Today is the last day of the current fiscal year. Shouldn’t we be considering other options?”
“You’re right. We’ve wasted too much time talking. Let’s figure something else out or go with what we have. We can wait until the fall or next year on those other items.”
It appears that not even Kiefer Sutherland’s “24” character could get enough of the majority party on board to pass a 2014-15 state budget that achieves the major policy reforms we’ve heard so much about in each of the last four budget cycles.
As of this morning, with both the House and Senate set to reconvene at 1 p.m., the Republican-controlled budget is not expected to include liquor or pension changes. Elected officials might get moved over to a 401(k)-style plan, but that’s small in comparison.
There is no severance tax coming on natural-gas drilling. It looks like nonew taxes, period.
Wow. There was so much suspense and recent threats of the summer session going into July. How quickly the tide turns (as I say that, it might go the other way).
In the end, we could have another on-time budget with no late plot twists or real drama. Yeah, that’s summer television for you.