JFAC, Idaho's budget committee where we sit in a room at big wooden desks and decide where the money goes, your tax dollars. Today the Department of Parks and Recreation set out plans for lay offs in their agency. I sit next to Representative Ringo who has been on the committee for I think six years. Shirley pointed out that our staff had listed how many years the fifteen employees had worked for the state. Twenty two years, 21, 19, 18, 17,16, several for 12 years... And who now doesn't now know someone with a family member losing a job as part of one of these many "government efficiency" and budget cutting proposals?
Meanwhile the Governor's office is straining to force agencies to strip back their services and staff, not just for the sake of us getting through this hard part of the economy, but permanently.
These are families, Idahoans who have children to send to college, food to buy, wages that small businesses in their communities are counting on. But we grind on and my impression is that we are nibbling around the edges. How we truly address the echoing hole in the middle of the budget is another question.
We are state leaders. If we botch this and underestimate the consequences of laying off people all across the state; if we do not inspire the confidence of all Idaho and do not help people feel secure enough that those still prospering will hire people and spend again, then this economic depression we face will go on.
Economic recovery is not a mysterious outside force that will swoop in and save us. It is the sense of renewed security and confidence inside each of us, confidence in each other and in our leaders that spurs us collectively to participate again, to replace broken appliances and take a weekend trip in the car, to go out to eat and buy new socks or shoes. It is an end to our living so fearful that we will lose jobs, or our having saved enough or paid off enough debt that we feel better able to endure what ever is ahead. It is then, too, eventually, those who have lost jobs finding new work as those who are employed spend again at local businesses. It is all of us looking at the little businesses and families around us that we care about and helping them out any way we can.