Another important issue is fiscal responsibility. The legislature must prioritize its spending. The state cannot afford to be everything to everyone. The legislature must clearly define and prioritize its funding obligations and be sure that those obligations are consistently met. When the state is experiencing improved economic conditions and tax revenues grow, money needs to be appropriated to the state's reserve to make economic downturns less painful to priority programs and to taxpayers. State government must constantly be looking for ways of doing what it has to do more efficiently.
During the 2007 legislative session the biennium budget was created. In comparison to prior years when budget growth was consistently 6 -- 6.5% that year's budget had spending growth at less than 5%. An appropriate amount of cash reserve was also created. On the tax side I voted in the majority for one of the largest tax reduction measures in legislative history. Kept in perspective though, there were areas in the budget that may have been under funded in order to meet spending growth goals and those areas need to be opened back up and reevaluated. Cutting taxes is always popular; however, each tax cut needs to be evaluated based on good long term tax policy and not short term feel good actions. Property tax burdens are what I hear the most about from constituents; although property taxes are levied by local subdivisions not the state, state fiscal policy can have a major influence on local political subdivisions and therefore property taxes. The 2009 legislative session was also a budget building session and unlike 2007 the revenue numbers were not good. The budget was built around a 1% total spending increase combined with the use of federal stimulus and about $200 million of the cash reserve. Year two of the current biennium is going to be very difficult because of steadily decreasing revenues that we'll have to adjust for and it is very possible given current economic conditions that building a new budget in the legislative session beginning 2011 will be a real challenge.