We are living in interesting times. When the session started on Jan. 6th, our target date to adjourn sine die was March 20th. Today we adjourned Sine Die. This has been the most unusual session that I have experienced in my twelve years of service. We have dealt with several continuous and controversial issues. We started with an economy that was going gangbusters. The Revenue Assment and Economic Outlook Committee had reports that a recession was not in the short term forecast. The EORAC was told that it looked like there were at least a couple of years of growth in the economy. The State’s revenues were still ahead of forecast. Today as we adjourn, we are wondering what tomorrow will bring. Most schools are closed. We have been asked to avoid crowds, keep gatherings to groups less than ten people, and to keep our social distance. All of these restrictions will slow the economy.
Last Friday that State announced their first case of Coronavirus (COVID19) and today there are about 30 reported cases. Supplies are very limited at our stores. We are fortunate in Idaho and particularly in District 32 as we have a lot of open space and we can still get out and about. We can and will get this virus under control if we all do our part. Avoiding crowds, washing our hands, and avoiding other people if we are sick. The supply chain will catch-up if we all buy what we need. (I have to keep telling myself that.)
When the spread of Covid19 started to affect the economy, I believe that we felt that it was prudent to wait and see what happens to revenues that will be affected by the slow down in the economy due to the virus. In the twelve years that I have served, I remember killing only one budget. This year we killed several budgets and sent them back for more work. The first was the SWCC budget and I lead the charge to kill that budget because of the lawsuit between the State Commission and the Franklin County Committee. Defeating that budget lead to talks between the parties about a potential settlement. I have now been told that those talks have broken down and I wish we had more time to pressure the SWCC by holding their budget. This was a problem that should have not have been handled by the courts. Sen. Harris and I will propose legislation next year to correct the problems between the SWCC and the local Committees.
The most important task we have is to create a balanced State budget. Every State department has to have a budget before we can adjourn. We accomplished that goal, but it wasn’t without a few hiccups along the way. A few of the budgets that had to be reworked were the Soil and Water Conservation Committee, the Attorney General, the State Board of Education, the State Tax Commission, the Colleges and Universities, and the Division of Building Safety.
Sen. Harris, Rep. Christenson, and I were able to meet the 10,000-step goal during each day in the month of February and each earned a $500 check from the Blue
Cross Foundation for schools in our District. This year I was walking for the Driggs Elementary School. I will also make a donation to the Swan Valley Elementary School. This will complete my commitment to contribute to all the school districts that I represent. This program is sponsored by the Blue Cross Foundation to help kids become active.
I want to thank you, the people of District 32, for giving me the opportunity to represent you in this Legislative process. The filing period to run for public office ended March 13th and I will not have an opponent in the election cycle this year. I am grateful for the confidence that you have placed in me as your representative, and I hope that I am worthy of the confidence.