The opening shots in the spending race were fired earlier this month when the state director of budget and finance presented the administration=s spending plan to lawmakers.

With more than $720 million in general funds remaining at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2006, the state surplus is a tempting target not only for lawmakers but for administrators as well.

Indeed, the administration proposes spending $10.4 billion in general funds over the next two fiscal years – 2008-2009. General funds will account for over half of the total operating expenditures of the state during that period. The fiscal year 2008 spending plan represents a nearly 5 percent increase over fiscal year 2007, and over a 2 percent increase for the fiscal year 2009 over 2008.

Justification for the growth in expenditures follows the usual litany of critical state programs such as,