To the editor,
[Last] week, the General Assembly convened to pass a budget “fix,” where, once again, we were tasked with attempting to remedy the fiscal crisis our state is facing. The legislature voted to support a plan to address the $226 million shortfall in the current budget year, which ends June 30. However, this fix is merely temporary.
We continue to face an enormous fiscal crisis in the near future. I’m greatly concerned that when tax revenues are updated on April 15, we will undoubtedly be facing revenue shortfalls, and immediately, the budget just balanced would again fall in deficit. Furthermore, on July 1, the state faces a $900 million deficit for the coming fiscal year in 2017.
The state legislature should be focused solely on making meaningful long-term, structural changes to put a stop to the fiscal hemorrhaging that is taking place. What’s troubling to me is that the legislature is concerned with passing bills that have little to do with improving economic conditions in our state and instead are overreaching and place burdensome regulations on municipalities, residents and small businesses, like mandating water sprinkler systems in new homes, regulating pricing on liquor, regulating ivory, regulating the legal smoking age, or charging businesses $1 per hour of work for every employee that makes under $15 (where the money will not benefit the employee and go into their pocket, but instead will go into the state’s general fund).
These and other issues are certainly important and should be discussed, but that discussion would be better served and more appropriate next year, after we put our efforts into getting our fiscal house in order and put our state on a better path, where our businesses want to stay and create jobs, our residents can make an honest living and take care of their families without struggling paycheck to paycheck, and our most vulnerable residents and those who are in need of help receive it.
The writer is a Republican state representative in the 89th Assembly District.