Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today is the 96th day of the 105-day session. Since I last wrote, the Senate Republicans released their budget proposal, which does not include tax increases. While it's not perfect, it's a breath of fresh air when we're constantly hearing “we can't balance the budget without new taxes.” A brief comparison of the two budgets is included in the graphic below.
With just 9 days left in the 2015 session, budget writers need to get serious about agreeing on a budget that's responsible. Unfortunately, ultimatums from the Democrats that they must have tax increases is creating problems with negotiations. There's no reason we should have to go into a special session – 105 days and $3 billion more in current revenues is more than enough to craft a responsible budget everyone can agree on.
Update on my fire and wolf bills
I'm glad the Senate passed my bill dealing with wildfire response this week so we can change the culture of fighting fires in our state. You can read more about it here. In conversations with Department of Natural Resources officials, we have a very clear understanding of the need to make improvements.
It looks as if my bill addressing the state's wolf conservation plan is technically dead since it got to the Senate floor but was not brought up for a vote before the cutoff. This bill would have empowered the Department of Fish and Wildlife to take a second look at the state's wolf plan to see if they could measure successful wolf reintroduction differently. Our area of the state needs immediate relief from these predators, and passing the bill this year would give us opportunities to start changing the wolf plan. I'm really disappointed the Senate hasn't passed this bill that received unanimous support in the House. I think it's important that the Senate pass this bill this year.
As the session winds down, I look forward to coming back home and seeing all of you. Please feel free to contact my office anytime. It's an honor to serve you.