By reputation for decades, the most emotionally difficult week on the House side of the legislative session is the budget week.
This week didn’t disappoint for being stressful and hurting. All 100 legislators give a big sigh when the bell rings closing the vote on HB-2.
The appropriations committee works on this bill from the first day. Bi-partisan committee, with good leadership guiding the way. The challenge is met, the revenue estimates are agreed on.
Revenue is the key because that is the money coming in that we build the spending around. That part is straight forward, just like at home, easy enough to understand.
The emotions start with where the reductions happen and build as you look at and face all the needs that aren’t added on. The budget this time is very close to what was actually spent in the last budget. What you see in the news is about cutting amounts.
That’s true... we did. But, not from last time’s spending. What you see in the news are cuts from the new amounts in the governors budget request. Big difference.
This budget can’t add in the new amounts asked for, but, it is not reducing from what was spent last time. Agencies will basically have what was there the last two years. Most departments want to grow, our population grows, our needs grow. The budget can’t grow without increasing revenue. The majority party wants to grow revenue through new jobs, and is not inclined to add revenue through new taxes.
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Unfortunately the budget wrangling isn’t over now. It only heats up from this point as it goes now to the Senate side, starting with their Finance and Claims committee. Then onto the Senate floor and then back to the House for us to vote on the changes they made.
“Oh my gosh, I had no idea how complicated and difficult the budget is.” That is the common comment from one-third of the legislators because they are new this session. New legislators, every one of us, all share the same quality....”an over abundance of naive enthusiasm.” We are going to set the ship of state on a better course and we’ll do it quickly. Can’t be that big a deal can it? The first, “Oh My God,” moment of reality usually comes in the first month.
Tara’s bill, HB-298, sexual prevention and awareness, has passed the House and will be heard in the Senate committee on Monday. I am expecting it will continue to receive strong support on through the Senate.
The two subdivision bills, HB-416 and HB-445 are both heard this week. One is establishing clarity and definition to code. I know, rather boring for most of us, and the other establishes tighter time limits and definition to the phasing portion of subdivision timing and planning.
The fun bill of the entire session, because of the intense emotion on both sides, and the tremendous amount of emails and such from you folks, is the ‘Daylight Savings’ bill. We heard that in my committee this week. Holy buckets did that draw a crowd. Over two hours of testimony... people lined up out the door and down the hall.
That bill snuck out of the Senate without anyone noticing, but not anymore! Testimony at committee was 90 percent against the bill. Mostly organizations, schools, sporting activities and tourism folks. My emails, now well over one thousand, are coming in about 50-50. The bill should be voted on by the committee sometime this week. You’ll have to check to see how I voted. My closing comment; Stand up for us ‘Old Guys’, join our cause... we don’t like going to bed when the sunlight is coming thru the window. Ban sunlight at night is what we say.
– Rep. Ed Greef, HD-88, (R) Florence