Friday, February 13, 2009

Stimulate this...

So, first sorry for the long delay in posts. Actually, I have written several posts, but decided against publishing them because I was waiting on information each time. Okay, so on to the post...

I have consistently and ardently advocated for the Idaho Legislature to position itself as well as possible to take advantage of any economic stimulus package that could potentially be approved by Congress. My position has never been one based upon the politics of the stimulus, but rather the reality of what it could mean for Idaho. Said another way, the Idaho Legislature isn't going to keep the bill from passing, but we sure do benefit if it does and need to be prepared when it comes our way.

Now to be fair the co-chairs of JFAC, Representative Maxine Bell and Senator Dean Cameron, have also been consistent. They have stated, repeatedly, that they will act as if the stimulus package is the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Due to their claim of an absence of any leprechauns sightings, no gold was to be found. What I don't understand, however, is if they are watching the same news that I do how they could come to this conclusion.

It seems to me that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made it pretty clear last week that the Senate wasn't going home until the stimulus package was signed by President Obama. While I understand that none of us have known exactly what was going to be in the package, it has been pretty clear, at least to me, that the package would do a lot to hold-off our budget crisis.

This gets me back to my original point. As a state lawmaker, what I care about is helping Idahoans and putting the Idaho Legislature in the best position to deliver the services that they expect while fulfilling our constitutionally required obligation of balancing the budget. I am totally perplexed by the philosophy that rejects out of hand the assistance from the federal government because its coming from the federal government. Furthermore, do we not understand that those dollars are Idahoans money too? Why wouldn't we want to be as strategic as possible and use the money in such a way to alleviate the headaches and problems that can come from budget cuts, especially more unemployment?

To continue to ignore the leprechaun and call him a puppet with strings attached is both unwise and unnecessary. The stimulus package may be a fluid thing, but so is our economy. We must be more agile and less rigid. We must be ready take what we can get and maximize its use.