A lesson in procrastination and irresponsibility, from the state legislature

Given the choice between the stalemate from two years ago and the current rush to pass a budget, I'll choose the stalemate every time.

It's not that I want government to be divided and nasty, it's rather that I want to know what's going on in the legislature. Sure, the conferees met for months on end and the debates got heated and bordered on silly at times, but we knew full well what each side wanted.

In this budget Speaker Sheridan and Senator Decker have done everything they can to pass this budget without any debate or public input. They have held meetings and votes into the middle of the night and early mornings. Time and again they have shown they are willing to try and push through a budget that drastically increases taxes and fees with barely enough time to glance at the Fiscal Bureau's analysis, let alone read the actual bill.

Now we have a story in which Senate President Fred Risser hints that the differences that still remain between the Assembly and the Senate could be hammered out in private. No conference committee needs to be formed. No formal debate needs to be held.

I realize that many differences are worked out in private conversations, but if we are going to have an open and democratic process the leaders of each chamber should sit down and hammer them out just like was done two years ago.

No attempt has been made to provide an open and honest debate about our state's budget. We have a full-time legislature where members make more than $50,000 a year. Middle of the night votes and last minute shenanigans are absolutely unacceptable.

To the leaders of the legislature I have only this to say: Your only job is to represent the people and pass a budget. If you can't get your act together to pass it in daylight, or at the very least begin the debate before 5 o'clock on a Friday, you have no business trying to run our state. You have all the discipline of a college student pulling an all-nighter to write a paper they've had 2 months to finish.

To deprive the people of an open and at least public - I've given up on honest at this point - debate about the differences between the Assembly and the Senate version is pathetic. If you are afraid to let light shine onto this sorry excuse for a budget and have to pass it in the middle of the night, maybe - just maybe - you shouldn't pass it at all.