Friday, July 18, 2008

Lawmakers end session quickly

So hard to say goodbye...or is it!

Lawmakers frantically finished their work Friday and whisked away from Raleigh as fast as possible. There's several reasons for this. First and foremost, all 170 spots in the General Assembly are up for election every two years and this would be that time. They don't want to be here giving their opponents any possible ammunition.

Second, revenues keep dropping and the outlook is as well so they just want to get away from it.

At the beginning of the session there were high hopes to get work done on transportation, drought, mental health and many other big issues. But day one it was clear leadership was focused on one thing-get a budget amended and get out of dodge ASAP!

So how did they do? Obviously depends on who you ask. I think the bottom line is they did enough to touch on the subjects and not get crucified during elections but not too much to get crucified in elections. Sounds funny I know, yet it makes sense.

Just about everyone you talk to down there is completely focused on transportation next year. They are all waiting for the 21st Century Transportation Committee to come forward with recommendations later this year.

Expect huge debates over finding new revenue sources (i.e. new taxes or fees to replace dwindling gas tax funds). Sadly, public transportation probably won't get as much attention by lawmakers as it should even though I suspect it will be a pretty big portion of the 21st Century Committee.

So, how will we fund roads. That's perhaps the biggest question. Big bonds? That's another question to be answered. Will lawmakers look to put big bonds (big as in billion$) for transportation, water and sewer, land preservation, etc. That will be another huge debate whether or not to ask voters for a big chunk of cash or figure out other ways to fix the state's crumbling state infrastructure.

You'll also hear a lot about education as usual. Expect another push for significant teacher raises and new fixes for dropout issues.

Will lawmakers touch the death penalty, annexation, land transfer taxes, etc.? Who knows..depends on how the wind is blowing I would bet.

For now the wind's blowing them right out of town. Get ready for non-stop election coverage!

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