Budget and next steps
So now we have a third budget- the Governor's budget from , we need to talk about moving forward. The main targets for lobbying now are leadership- Speaker Brendan Sharkey, President of the Senate Martin Looney, Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz and Majority Leader Bob Duff. The Chairs of Appropriations Sen. Beth Bye and Rep. Toni Walker will continue to be involved. At some point these people will be meeting with staff from OPM and the Governor's Office. Though at the moment tensions are very high between leadership and the Governor. In the end the final big decisions are often made with only the top leaders and the Governor in the discussion.
So the best way to reach these policy makers are grass"tops" calls to them. Grass"tops" are people who know these people and the leader will take their call even at this crazy time of the year. The other very good way to influence these people is thru their members-Democrats in the House and Senate. So it is really important you have your grassroots call their legislators or any legislator they know personally and ask them to talk to the leaders on your behalf. They need the votes to pass the budget which is going to be very hard given the level of cuts so every Democratic members has power. You need to let them know the impact of the cut they are proposing on the people you serve. The more personal the contact the better- meeting in person, phone calls, written note, personal e-mail and form e-mails- this is the order of effectiveness. Any contact is better than none.
I am not an expert but I do believe social media can be effective. Everyone putting up the same message asking for your funding on the Facebook page, Twitter, etc. if you have some one to guide you thru this, definitely use all the tools you have available. A short ( minute or two) video you can e-mail all legislators. I am sure you have creative members that have ideas for advocacy-brainstorm-involve your staff, board, clients, advocates, family, neighbors, etc. in this effort.
It is unclear if the Republicans are going to be involved in these negotiations. They have not been included in the regular budget negotiations at the end in a long time but they were included in the talks about the deficit mitigation package. It is very, very rare that the majority party passes a budget with the less than 51% of the votes coming from Democrats even if there are Republican votes. But moderate Democrats in the House have said they would vote with Republicans if there are not enough votes among the Democrats for a budget that does not raise taxes. So your members should call their legislators who are Republicans and ask them to talk to their leaders (Rep. Klarides and Sen. Fasano) about your funding.
It does help to have sympathetic press about the people you serve but we have such a short time and so many people are pushing for news coverage it may be hard. But local papers may publish letters to the editor or an Op Ed. If anything is published you should be sure it is sent to all your local legislators with a note.
The time line is not clear so you should start this work now. Some decisions will be made in the next week or so. The bigger decisions such as Transportation funds, municipal funding, revenue and leaders' property tax relief account-municipal revenue sharing fund will be made at the end. Changes even little changes can be made up to the time the budget is published. It is very unlikely that the vote on the budget will happen before the last week of the session ( session ends ) so the vote would be probably between Last year the Senate voted on the budget less than a half hour before their adjournment. And then there is always the possibility that there will be a special session. ( you can not imagine how painful it is for me to even think about that possibility.)
The other problem with influencing the budget at this time is none of the negotiations happen in public. We will get you all, all the information available. Please let me know if you have any questions.