Why are negotiations so quiet this year?

Lansing, MI – Legislative leaders say they could have the budget wrapped up as soon as next week. Most of the big fights appear to be settled, and there seems to be little interest in the fierce partisan bickering that's marked the state budget process in recent years.

Negotiations have gone so smoothly and quietly that, unless a major fight breaks out over cuts or plans to generate revenue, work on the budget seems nearly done. But why have the closed door talks between legislative leaders and Governor Granholm been so smooth and quiet? Especially when compared with the acrimony of previous years.

Democratic House Speaker Andy Dillon says, "I don't know, I mean it's hard to remember last year's process. I mean last year 11 of the 15 budgets were done at the end of June, we had trouble with a few of the budgets."

Dillon says it also could be because this year there is more money from the federal government. Or maybe, he says, it's because negotiators have accepted they need to make cuts.

Still others say things are quiet at the Capitol because so many lawmakers are lame ducks. Some have been humbled by losses in primary elections. Whatever the cause, the Legislature seems on track to complete the budget before the October 1st deadline.