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Legislators: We don’t want to be Congress

 

Last year was about digging holes. This year’s recently completed legislative session was about filling holes – literally, figuratively and financially.

It was also about working together. “We don’t want to be Congress,” they said again and again.

During the 2017 session, budgeters frantically emptied the state’s reserves, school balances and other funds to fill a deficit caused by plunging oil and gas tax revenues. It was an unforgiving process.

In recent weeks, they’ve talked about “backfilling,” replenishing reserves and fund balances and restoring agency budgets.

Two of the big issues were crime and the unstable, man-made cavity beneath Carlsbad. Lawmakers finally stopped talking and approved funding to remediate the Carlsbad Brine Well. Even then I heard griping: Why should it be the state’s responsibility? Well, we’ve harvested boatloads of taxes from the industry for decades. We can’t suddenly wash our hands of its impacts. (Footnote: Debates about over-regulation suddenly fall flat when we have a spectacular failure of regulation, and in this case it was a failure of state regulation.)

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