Ready to adjournMar 8, 2012 By Steven R. Peck
This has been a relatively painless session of the Wyoming Legislature. Not every bill has passed via smiling affirmation and applause, mind you, but there really haven't been any knock-down, drag-out fights of the sort that have characterized some other sessions in Cheyenne.
Everybody seemed to head into this session resigned to the idea that budget dollars would be more scarce during the next biennium, and it didn't take long for the Wyoming House and Wyoming Senate to pass their versions of the new, leaner state budget.
And, unlike some sessions, it was relatively easy for the two separate bodies to find agreement on a merged budget bill that now has been sent to the governor, who played a useful role in the budget process as well. No all-night conference committee ordeals this year. No stopping of the clock. No veto bluster from the governor's office.
We've noted before the odd political reality that cutting budgets often can be easier for elected officials than expanding them -- easier, but not more enjoyable.
There is always a place to find cover under the overarching philosophical umbrella of "saving the taxpayers' money," and that path is even clearer when there is consensus that the taxpayers aren't supplying as much money to the budget makers as they used to. This session proves it.
The Legislature will adjourn Friday, if all goes according to plan. No legislative session delivers satisfactory outcomes to everyone. This one had its share of disagreements, along with some silliness that helped break some tension at the Capitol. Even better, there was a laudable dose of common sense in several cases where extremist legislation was recognized for what it was by the majority and put to rest.
The 2012 budget session of the Wyoming Legislature is likely to be remembered as an earnest, good-faith period when the men and women we have elected to serve us did their job for the most part -- if not always in the outcome that we the people wished, then at least in the manner we expect. And in today's harsh rhetorical climate, that is no small accomplishment.
Now we all can hope -- and work -- for an improved economic condition two years from now. Then the legislators can get back to arguing about spending money because we have it, rather than nodding grimly because we don't.