I know the stimulus plan puns are getting old. Stimulating conversation. Less than stimulating conversation. In any case, our Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee today spent the first of three days discussing Idaho's share of / potential for/ obstacles to / failures related to / and deadlines for.... the federal stimulus. Hoping eagerly for something that will help the 50,000 Idahoans looking for work.
Top ten things I learned:
10. This money is from Idahoans, past and future, to be sent via Washington DC via federal agencies, grants, direct appropriations and requests which many pray are going to be made by the Governor...
9. Goals include avoiding job losses and lay offs in state government, avoiding state tax increases, creating new jobs, making the nation more energy independent and preventing the immediate implosion of a hand full of Governments in states from one coast to the other.
8. It is true the governor can reject this money. But we as a legislature can override his objections, as long as he doesn't veto them. (Of course 2/3 of us could always vote in favor of a veto override and that would be that.)
7. If you have an idea, you need to apply to a state agency and the Governor's Department of Fiscal Management (DFM). These budget analysts have some flexible money to use for creative economic development, energy and job creating ideas. Can we put the money in to fill all the holes in our state budget? No. Might it free up money we now spend on Medicaid to prevent the deepest of state employee pay cuts? Possibly yes, for now.
6. People can have ideas. Non governmental entities can come up with shovel-ready (can be permitted and ready to grind into motion in 120 days) job producing ideas as long as they do not involve: casino gambling, aquariums, zoos, golf courses or swimming pools.
5. The governor is asking other governors, including Democrats for help. This is good.
4. If you have ideas that use American made products or resources (steel, iron, some manufactured goods), that is encouraged.
3. Everyone's ideas have to be turned in by noon on March 4.
2. Not until March 19 will the Governor's advisory committees have their reports done.
1. The legislature will sort of be sitting around until then. Sitting around for this body, and especially the body across the hall there, is not a good idea. Legislators can hatch crazy ideas when we are bored. Bad ideas generally. With the exception of the Napoleon Dynamite Resolution which was one of the best bored things anyone ever passed through the legislature.
Read it if you need some cheering up.