Budget

Every year the political battles really get formed around the budget.  It makes sense, especially because the budget is a function of what has the greatest priority in the eyes of the Legislature and the Executive branch.  But it is not always the best way to make policy.  I was recently in a discussion with a seasoned legislator who suggested
 
the entire legislature attend all the Joint Budget Committee hearings.  Such attendance is beneficial, I attended several of the hearings last year and came away with a great understanding of the departments and their goals and issues.

Looking Ahead

What I think is also a good discussion is possibly moving to a biennial budget.  Every two years, beginning in the first year of Representative’s terms, the legislature would pass a budget, with all the high drama and political point taking that ensues.  In the next year we would consider supplemental requests but there would be a considerable amount of time for deeper policy questions and staff time to consider better ways of allocating a finite amount of revenue.  In the end we would structurally ensure that we tackle policy questions without the pressure of the need to pass a budget by a certain date.  Many of the legislators with whom I have talked have considered the idea a positive one.  Now we need to drill down into the details.