Monday evening we heard the Governor's State of the State Address. He spent most of his time speaking of new programs and enlarging current programs. Make no mistake, his projected budget would include cuts to Higher Education, K 12 education, and Social Services. Oh, he didn't say that in his speech, but there is not enough money available to pay for all the new plans. Picture the budget as a big pie on the Thanksgiving table. There is only so much pie and if Uncle George wants a bigger slice, well then someone else gets a smaller piece. Of course, the easy answer to the problem is that we all contribute a few more tax dollars (or a LOT more tax dollars) and the pie gets bigger. It doesn't take me all day to decide that I don't like that option.
Tuesday I attended my first Transportation committee meeting. We were given some updated information on DOT plans for the future and I was pleased to hear that they intend to take their plans to the voters for a decision on which way to proceed. We have 30,000 miles of roads and 10,000 bridges to maintain and there is certainly a case for some additional road building. The plan that they have unveiled includes a new funding stream for the counties as well. I will keep you posted on the plans as more information becomes available.
Wednesday morning I held a Workforce Development Committee hearing on the "Paycheck Protection" proposal. This bill provides new legislation giving workers the privilege of deciding yearly whether to designate part of their union dues for political campaigns and issues. The bill sponsor argued that it was only fair for people to have the option of spending their hard earned money in the way they best see fit. We heard both sides of the issue in a two-hour hearing and are now waiting for additional information to surface.
On Thursday we had a Capitol safety meeting. The Highway Patrol and Capitol Police conducted a seminar instructing us on the best way to protect ourselves in case of violent attacks on the Capitol. It is nearly impossible to cover every eventuality, but we need to be thinking about the potential of violence and the best way to respond.
Friday I was delivering flags to Rocky Comfort School, the Sheriff's Department and the Tiff City Community Center. While I was visiting with Joe and Pauline Briscoe, Pauline mentioned that we sure seem to have a lot of litter on the roads anymore. One thing that we really need to watch are the plastic bags that we get at Convenience Stores, Groceries, and Wal-Mart. They are really handy to carry our purchases but they blow everywhere if we don't dispose of them properly. As any vet will tell you, they can cause the death of large animals that pick them up and swallow them out of curiosity. Please be more careful and if you see one blowing by, pick it up.
A lot of bills came out of committee last week so we should be getting really busy soon. I'll keep you posted, until then, I am and remain, in your service.