[r54] Getting Priorities Back on Track for Second Half (3/10/2009)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Start Date: 3/10/2009 All Day
End Date: 3/10/2009
There are advantages to a being a part-time state legislature.  For one thing, it means almost all of your state representatives have regular jobs.  This ensures the General Assembly can remain a citizens' legislature.  Otherwise, if we had a full-time legislature, it could only be filled with people who have the financial resources to do nothing but campaign and legislate.

On the other hand, doing the state's business only four months a year (or 2½ in a short session) means we have to prioritize Indiana's needs when creating and supporting legislation.  This year, that ability to prioritize is more important than ever, given our economy and the state's needs.

Unfortunately, this year we're way off track. 

We keep going to the same dry well with the same empty bucket.  And not only is the well dry, the bucket's got a hole in it. 

To begin, House majority is passing legislation that would spend more than the state would take in.  Isn't it strange how governments spend more of your money in the name of helping Hoosiers?  To really help, we need to limit our spending, not spend more. 

Take education, for example. This state allocates more money to public education than any other service.  Still, it seems there is never enough money. House Bill 1723 is the elementary and secondary education budget that passed out of the House on a party-line vote.  This bill would spend $100 million from the Tuition Reserve Fund in 2010. 

If we really want to better fund Indiana's public schools, we need to look at the ways we spend the money already allocated and focus that money where it is needed most - in the classrooms, with the students.

In the first eight weeks of session, the House also passed too many bills that regulate businesses.

In the middle of a recession, we need to give businesses the flexibility to make fast and creative adjustments in day-to-day operations.  Instead, we passed House Bill 1166, which would require businesses with 50 or more employees to give 60 days notice before laying off employees and would require those employees to be kept on the payroll for that 60 days. 

Sure, unemployment rates are skyrocketing, but this proposed legislation would create more problems for small businesses just barely hanging on.  Having to make the tough decision to lay off part of your workforce is bad enough, but this bill might force businesses to shut their doors in these uncertain economic times. And that means more job loss. 

Finally, it seems that even when we're starting to move in the right direction, something goes horribly awry. 

HB 1730 is a prime example of this. The bill involves green building projects, which in itself is not a bad thing.

Energy-saving and environmentally friendly initiatives hold enormous potential to boost Indiana's economy and reduce our waste.  Many new alternative-energy initiatives in Indiana are job-creators that invigorate our economy. 

This bill, however, would allow governments to bypass the referendum process on certain construction projects, so long as they met certain standards for green construction.  Interestingly, these projects often cost more than regular projects.  So, this bill would reduce voter input when more of their money is at stake. 

These bills have one thing in common: Proof that the current House majority is not the party of the people, but the party that likes to spend the people's money.  But the well is dry, and the bucket's got a hole in it.

It reminds me of the song from elementary school.  "There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza." With what will the House majority fix that hole?  More spending. 

I could have told you it was a bad idea when I was in elementary school.