One of the greatest feelings about the legislative session is driving home after the final day. I compare it to the last day of school. It’s bittersweet–you look forward to getting back to your life, but you’ll miss your legislative family. The bonds made with legislative friends is strong, and even those whom I strongly disagree with are still great conversations waiting to happen.
That drive home is a little shorter than the rest. The occasional phone call to derail your train of thought, but at least my mind tries to look at the big picture of the session and figure out what went right, what went wrong, and what I personally could have done differently. Here’s what I came up with in general:
- I was disappointed with the handling of the education bills, especially the sales tax HB 1182. I believe that we could have made them better and more accountable to see that teachers are the ones who actually see the money we appropriate. I don’t like the new formula’s normalization of other revenues, and I believe the entire package favors large schools over small ones. There was enough good in SB 131 and SB 133 to earn my vote, but I hope we did enough to ensure that another video lottery style debacle doesn’t occur, and the teachers actually see the money. I hope that the task force established in SB 131 is able to ride herd closely on those issues and report to the legislature if small schools are not able to stay competitive on salary or class offerings.
- I was encouraged by the ease of SB2’s passage. SB2 is a summer task force bill that I’ve written about before. SB2 moves a higher percentage of the alcohol drink tax to counties, away from the state, and passed by comfortable margins in both Houses.
- The new joint House-Senate Appropriations process is off to a great start, and with some fine tuning will offer greater heights of transparency and openness in state government spending.
I’ll get to my personal self-critique next week. As we prepare for veto day, I would like to take a moment to thank you for this opportunity to serve you in Pierre. This is an election year, and every member of the legislature must stand and face the voters. Before I announce any intentions I have for my future, I’d like to thank you for your support and encouragement over the last two years. Whatever happens between now and the swearing in next winter, I simply wish to say thank you for the trust you’ve placed in me. My family and I are forever grateful for this incredible opportunity.