I’ve been hearing recently from dozens of people who are concerned about possible cuts in valuable state programs. I’ve also heard from many who are concerned about possible tax increases.
The programs on the chopping block are all programs that I strongly support and I would jump to their defense at any other moment.
At this particular moment, most people are requesting that I speak to the House-Senate conference committee on the budget and urge adoption of the House numbers. The conference committee has an exceptionally difficult task this year in trying to reconcile the House budget with a Senate budget that is based on substantially lower revenue estimates. Unfortunately, the Senate budget revenue estimates are the more accurate ones, so the House will recede to the Senate necessarily on many items.
I feel that I had (and took) my opportunity to speak out and define priorities on these programs in the House budget process and I trust that the House Ways and Means chair will bear those priorities in mind as he works with the other conferees to resolve a terribly difficult situation. Therefore, I have consistently followed a blanket policy of not communicating with the conference committee on individual line items in the FY2010 budget.
For validation of that approach readers might be interested in the recent letter from the House Ways and Means chair.
To those who are deeply concerned about the lost programs, please be assured, however, that I am willing to speak out and vote for additional revenue. I did vote for the sales tax increase and will vote for removal of the exemption of alcohol from the sales tax if it is presented as part of the conference package.
To those who are more concerned about the tax increases, please be assured that I have been a strong advocate for reform and the legislature is moving moving forward on many fronts to cut costs and restore integrity in government. Also, grimly, rest assured that deep cuts are being made in programs even despite the likely sales and alcohol tax increases.
With sadness at the difficult choices we face.