As we reported last week, an agreement was reached between the House and Senate on the total state budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 of $21.735 billion, roughly $415 million less than what the House had proposed and about $265 million more than the Senate’s proposal. What was left to debate was exactly how that money would be spent, and more specifically what cuts to their proposal the House would be willing to accept. By the end of the week leaders in both chambers proclaimed the amount of progress that had been made in these negotiations, including agreements on teacher and State employee raises (a one-time $750 bonus, raise of starting teacher pay to $35,000 per year, and scheduled “step raises” for teachers, State Highway Patrol officers, court clerks and magistrates, in addition to money set aside to boost salaries for community college employees, correctional officers, spielautomaten and certain hard-to-retain state workers) and agreements on how much each budget subcommittee will have to spend, which kick-started negotiations between the respective House and Senate Chairs. Read the full report here.