Political Process Opens, a Wee Bit, on Smith Hill

Word from a Smith Hill source that the House leadership will allow Democrats to caucus and review next year's budget before the finance committee takes it up.

Doesn't sound like a big deal, I know. But for years, the leadership has jealously guarded its control over the budget - the single most important piece of legislation the General Assembly cranks out each year.

A few months back, renegade rank-and-file legislators - including those in an emerging Progressive Caucus - opened up the process a bit with a revolt against the leadership's mid-year revision to the 2008-2009 budget. Now, a sign that the impact could be long-term. And with the state facing a major fiscal crisis, influence over the budget process is even more important than usual.

The opening is small. Power still concentrated. But change may be a-comin'.

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