Anticipating a busy 2012 session, lawmakers will hold three more sets of "legislative committee days" before February to tee up issues as they nervously await two more revenue forecasts that could determine whether budget-cutting will be a focus of their attention.
Here are three examples of what we already know will be on the agenda:
STATE REVENUE: Taking stock of a volatile state budget is an obvious reason for annual sessions. This time, the stakes will be very high as the state struggles to emerge from a stubborn recession.
August's forecast, released two weeks ago, showed state tax revenue declined by almost $200 million from projections at the end of the legislative session last June. While new State Economist Mike McMullen did not predict an "echo recession," he noted a loss of consumer confidence following congressional wrangling over the federal deficit.
The $200 million drop in revenue can be managed with the reserve legislators wrote into the budget, but deeper declines could mean more cuts.