The whole pace of the session just accelerated tenfold.
The divisive and highly political anti-choice, anti-senior and anti-health care bills sailed through hearings this morning and so the legislature is well on its way to inviting constitutional challenges and keeping attorneys busy and well funded once again. We even take up hearings on politicizing state retiree benefits in Commerce Committee tomorrow. Do we help the economy and seniors or do we do what the Idaho Freedom Foundation wants?
We started setting budgets this morning too and in this, the very first day, there was a budget many felt would be harmful to the state, the economy and the people of Idaho if not given more money. While my personal first priority is not to hire bank regulators, I know they are necessary, but compared to a teacher I think I'll fund teachers... I even debated against the motion until Rep. Fred Wood said that not going with the same identical bare bones budgets and the same deep cuts for every agency will unravel the process.
I thought to myself, with the mess we are about to make of the economy what are we trying to defend here? What is there here in these cruel 2011 budgets so beloved that we would not want to unravel it?
All our reserves are gone and we have no stimulus with which to once more protect the state from letting prisoners lose or firing thousands and thousands of teachers and state employees. Who has asked the people of Idaho if they want to have their schools cut this deep? Can we even write budgets that work and balance given that the fist day we already fell off the wagon of austerity worrying about bank regulators. What happens when we get to children or people's lives and health?
I feel this pace accelerating and I long for the playful days of last week when we were wishing our first set of pages good bye, when Bart Davis, Kate Kelly and all of Democratic and Republican leadership stood in a big receiving line to shake hands and wish them all well.
Everyone laughed each time one of the girls reached up and hugged Bart Davis because he doesn't like to be known as kind or as a softy. They all got hugs out him and a few even got one out of Kate who is no fan of the "touchy feely" either. It was charming and a bit sad since they were a particularly good group. But our new pages are here in their red sweater vests, wandering this giant gleaming place which is so very different from the place it was just a few days ago.