The session 03-11-11

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

We’ve now come to the point where it stops being fun for our state legislators.

For the next two months, elected officials will be in Tallahassee determining your future. These are the people we elected last fall, and their decisions will shape our state for a generation.

If you attended the Legislative Delegation hearing a few months ago at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, you listened to the pleas from the audience for the exact thing that many people are fighting … money for special interest projects.

Everyone feels that their project, their program, deserves not to have funding cut. “Give the cuts to the other guy, but leave us alone,” seems to be what they’re saying.

The reality is that we all have to bite the bullet.

Unlike other states that are fighting to overcome major deficits, Florida is in a little better shape because a balanced budget has been required by state law for some time. That means that there’s no holdover debt from previous years, and we don’t have the problems that places such as Wisconsin and California have.

Still, there are major challenges to providing a balanced budget.

Right at the top is the cost of energy. Analysts say the price of gas at the pump is going to keep going up for a while, and remember, state vehicles run on gasoline, too.

Everyone wants a raise to keep up with the rising cost of food and other items, and that includes government workers, too.

The state must find a way to keep everyone on equal footing.

All other matters facing the Legislature are minor compared to the budget. But that doesn’t mean that people will stop pushing other programs that have nothing to do with spending or tax cuts or revenue.

So if you run into one of our state legislators in the next couple of months, you’ll have to excuse them if they seem a little distracted. The fun of getting elected is over. Now it’s time to get down to work.