Lawmakers face tough decisions
Published 4:56 pm Sunday, January 24, 2010
State lawmakers began their annual legislative session last week with two major events hanging over them: another tough budget year and impending elections.
But we hope one won’t be an undue influence on the other.
Lawmakers have acknowledged that they have tough decisions ahead of them. Last year part of the state’s general fund and education budgets were saved by federal stimulus dollars — money that will be available again this year, with the hope of more to come.
But that is still a temporary fix to our state’s problems. Lawmakers last year budgeted based on some very optimistic numbers — numbers that so quickly failed to live up to expectations that the state education budget was prorated as soon as the new fiscal year began.
But as they look at the tough decisions ahead, lawmakers are also facing their own re-election campaigns. We could understand the temptation not to make tough decisions, to look too optimistically at state fund projections and put our schools and state agencies right back in the same boat next year.
But we need our lawmakers to stand up and do what is right for our state. They will have to find ways to reign in state spending. Perhaps they will even have to consider new revenue streams. Those decisions may not be popular; they may not garner votes in June or November. But we elected our officials to make decisions, not to run for re-election.