For a state that was touting less than a year ago that it was pretty recession proof, we are struggling. I know that here in Carbon county, the push is to keep a frame of mind that things are pretty good. In the scheme of things it does seem like we are sitting well.
But there are certainly some dark clouds looming on our horizon if the state legislature takes some of the actions they have bandied around.
I would hate to be the one that has to divie up the piece of pie that is left on the table. It can't be easy and no matter what, there is going to be pain.
During the good economic years, when programs were trying to get funding to meet their needs, our legislatures counseled them to keep a conservative budget. I don't think I ever worked with any agency that felt like it was fully funded to meet the demands they were trying to achieve. We all had to operate pretty conservatively.
As the economy quickly falls apart all agencies have had to deal with across the board cuts. Any perceived fat in program budgets have long disappeared. Now most are slicing big chunks of the meat off their programs.
Preventative programs in health, education, public safety and human welfare need to remain at the top of our funding priorities. Studies have shown, time and time again, that prevention of any problem these programs may alleviate saves more money than fixing the disasters that occur later.
Cutting days for our children's education will not result in smarter kids. Doing away with the health department will force sick people to seek treatment that they probably cannot pay for.
Cutting money for the highway patrol will mean people will die when there isn't a trooper close enough to respond to an accident in a timely manner. More families will fall into trouble and children will end up hurt or dead because caseworkers for DCFS will be spread too thin to reach out before crisis situations develop.
While no matter what area of the state budget ends up in the target sights for the chopping block, there will be those who can tell you why it should not be that particular program that is cut. But prevention, education and safety shouldn't be the easy pickings for money.
The state has spent years putting money aside for a rainy day. When programs tried to get a bigger piece of the pie they were told that any "extra" money needed to be stashed away for bad times. This is a sound economic principle. Now it is time to use that money to maintain those programs that are vital to the health of our state.
I have heard that the legislators don't want to fund programs with that money because it is only one time funding. If the cycle of economics work the way it has before, hopefully that may be all that is needed. It should be used as a bridge of funding to take us through until better times.
Just like in your own home, if you let your house fall down around you, it will cost you dearly in the end. Well timed repairs, even if you have to take out a small loan to do it, can keep your equity in place.
Let us hope that the legislature looks out for our state's equity, which is its people, as it finds the best way to keep things intact as we weather this storm.