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Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Passing budget must come first

Once again, state legislators can't get their work done on schedule, and they're moving to another expensive special session. This recurring problem happens because legislators have their priorities backwards. They spend most of the session working on lower-priority pet bills and leave the budget, the most important task, to the end.
Here are some of the bills that legislators thought were more important than getting the budget passed: a crucial "sip and spit" bill, allowing culinary students to taste alcohol, a vitally important bill changing "freshman" to "first-year student," and a bill to create "National Rifle Association" license plates. There were also useless resolutions, such as honoring Catholic schools, Kiyokazu Ota (who?), and National Day of the Cowboy.
That's what some of our legislators toiled on before and in lieu of working on the budget. Sure, non-budget bills can be beneficial, but if they can be passed before the budget is finalized, then they can be passed after it's finalized, too.
Solution? No pet bills, no silly resolutions -- nothing -- until the budget is done. And special sessions should be limited to the budget. If legislators dilly-dally and don't finish the budget by the last day of the session, then -- boo hoo -- no other bills get passed that year.
If this requirement were implemented, we'd see the end of extra sessions. In fact, the budget would probably be completed in a week, as legislators would rush to get to their own bills. A cost-saving win-win for everyone.
Matthew Barry
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