A State Senate Review by Senator Darcy Jech

Members of the State Senate convened this week for the first day of the legislative session. We met briefly in the Senate chamber, and then moved into joint session shortly thereafter in the House chamber to hear the Governor’s State of the State address.

As the new session begins, it will be essential to look ahead at the budget situation. A few weeks ago, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services, of which I serve as Vice Chair, heard from 13 different state agencies that all voiced concern over repeated budget cuts to their organizations, with some agencies seeing cuts up to 40% in the last few years. This may be an example of “mission creep,” which is the tendency to fund extra services and programs that are outside the core mission of the state functions when the budget is healthy. What happens to those “extras” when the budget strings are shored up in tighter economic years? Unfortunately, the “extras” are often seen as “programs” after a few years, making it harder to justify cutting those extras when the state coffers are lean. An agency could find itself shifting money around to fund programs that were never intended to be “core services.” Once a service is in place, it’s very difficult to pull it back without creating a perceived hardship for the agency.


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