NEWSLETTER 1/14/11 SENATOR GREG ADAMS 402-471-2756
The first eight days of the ninety day session are behind us. Over 400 bills have been introduced so far and more will come in the final two days of bill introduction. All of the bills I have introduced this year are a result of my being Chair of the Education Committee and the extreme budget deficit looming before us. My obligation this past year has been to present proposals for consideration as it relates to education and possible (and feasible) reductions to state aid. This has been an immense task which has been the primary focus of my office this past interim. Even though I haven’t introduced bills in other areas this year, I am aware of the issues and want to ensure my constituents that I will pay close attention to those subjects when they are discussed. A bill does not need my name on it in order for me to impact the issue. But the focus of this legislative session will be the budget.
The stark reality is that the state is facing is a situation wherein revenues are negative or flat at best. The fiscal office informs me that the state has not experienced a revenue decline like this for decades. Simply stated, the state does not have the money and we are constitutionally obligated to balance our budget. Hard decisions have to be made and not just in education.
The Governor has submitted his budget and it is a starting point. Ultimately, it is the legislature that will decide the budget for the next two years, which is why I submitted to state aid reduction proposals. As committee chair I have the responsibility to develop plans and proposals. To not have developed proposals for the committee to consider or to have developed proposals that were unrealistic would have been irresponsible. The Education Committee will spend considerable time examining the two proposals, the governor’s recommendations, and the impact on schools as we amend together a final plan to send to the floor for consideration. Whatever the committee finally sends out and whatever the rest of the legislature finally passes into law for state aid, it will be a cut to all schools in the state. A cut that we have been warning schools of for two years. It is a cut that none of us like to have to make.
Much of the current budget recommendations are based on assumptions that we may be at the bottom of the economic trough and hopefully we will begin to see signs of recovery which means that state revenues will improve. If the preliminary assumptions hold true we can begin to adjust appropriations back to more normal levels, but given the severity of this current recession, there most probably will be a new “normal”. Until we actually see state revenues increase we are required to balance the budget with what we have.
Besides the Governor’s recommendations for education, he presented an interesting and challenging budget. Like with all preliminary budgets from the Governor or the Appropriations Committee, there are parts I’m pleased with and other parts that cause me a great deal of concern.
As always I encourage you to call, write or email my office. Your concerns and comments are important to me. My office phone number is 402-471-2756, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish a response, please indicate that information and I will do my best.