By Rep. Joe McDonald
If my dad said it once, he said it 1,000 times: If you have a weak stomach, you don’t want to see how either sausage or law is made.
When I was just a kid, dad’s old saying used to just make me hungry for some Jimmy Dean’s. Now I have learned first-hand what he meant. We legislators chop up parts here, add ingredients there and the whole process can get quite messy. But, when the job is done right, the finished product – sausage or law – is something which satisfies us all.
Exhibit A is the series of finance bills which recently passed the House floor. These are about 10 pieces of legislation that together form our global budget plan.
We face tough decisions working within the constraints of a $5 billion budget shortfall and not everyone agrees with all the components that balance out our bottom line. But, in sausage-making terms, the casing is not yet on our bills. Conference committees are in the process of ironing out the remaining kinks so we can take another vote and send the bills to the governor for his action.
Whether the governor approves our bills – which balance the budget without tax increases – is up to him. He can approve them and put us on more sustainable ground, or he may veto them and then it would be back to the drawing board.
This would be where negotiations come into play. There will be some disagreement, but that’s a good thing because it’s important for all sides to be considered. Make no mistake, there already are good things in our bills provided by both sides of the aisle and both parties have been instrumental in helping us to solve our issues. This has been especially evident in the health and human services committees which I serve.
One question I continue asking about the budget is this: Are the tax dollars we already have being put to the best possible use, or are there areas which could be improved to make more efficient use of our existing revenue? Our State Government Finance Bill (H.F. 577) includes dozens of reform measures to improve the way government operates and help us do more with the our tax dollars.
Long days and nights are the norm at the Capitol this time of year and I will continue striving to do what’s best for local citizens and Minnesota in general. Please continue providing me with your input by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
And one more thing: If you happen to see my old man around, ask him why it takes so long to make good laws in St. Paul. I’m pretty sure you could make some tasty sausage in an afternoon.