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Dear Friends,

Yogi Berra would say, "It's déjà vu all over again."

Last August I wrote, "What needs to happen is this: the Legislature should start at the top with the main priorities public education, public health and public safety. We should fully fund those programs (cutting costs and privatizing where necessary) and then continue down the list to the next programs. When the money runs out so be it."

Yesterday four minority senators and I "started at the top" and introduced Bill 310 and Bill 311, former providing a $10.4 million appropriation for the hospital; the later being a $167.6 FY05 budget for
the Department of Education.

Read the bills at

The same old response came from the majority, ".which agencies will receive
budget cuts?"

Let's try this, "There are two basic philosophical approaches to dealing with the situation that we're in right now. The first one is to say, 'Well, we've had a series of natural calamities, that we couldn't control and therefore the challenge before us is to make sure that we don't lay anybody
off and that we always make payroll. If we do that, that's fine. That is all we have to do.'

"The second choice is to say: 'Yes, we've had a series of calamities, but one of the reasons for the economic difficulty that we're in right now is because we have a government that is too big and unresponsive. What we must do is reduce the government to an affordable size and make it responsive. We can't control natural disasters. But, the one thing we can control is how we approach our government.' The second choice has been aggressively advocated by the Republican minority side of the isle.

"If we want to just keep stumbling along just doing the bare minimum then we're not going to be able to provide an adequate public education for our students.

"We need to provide an adequate public education system for our students even if we have to stop doing other government functions. I've stated this before; I'll continue to press this point on the session floor. The Legislature must start with the top priorities first (education, health, and safety) and then work its way down the list. When the money is gone. we go home."

This is what I wrote to you last August 26 and it's as true today as it was

Almost a year ago, I introduced Bill 147, the Priorities in Government Act.

That bill, if it were to become law, puts education, health and public safety at the top of the list and gives the Governor the tools necessary to do what is needed to do right now.

The words "education is our top priority" lie easily on the lips of every member of the legislature yet Bill 162, the Every Child is Entitled to an Adequate Public Education Act, has not been reported out of the Committee on Education and Housing even though a "Do Pass" committee report has been finished for months.

I'll close with what I wrote last August 13: "The majority needs to heed the Republican minority: make a list of all government agencies and fully fund the critical agencies and most urgent priorities first. Until this happens, I'm afraid the "band-aide" approach of budgeting will continue to occur."

I'll continue to speak out for prioritizing essential government services first and only spending what this government can afford."

Bills 310 and 311: it's about priorities.


P.S. Check out for the updated savings report of Bob's Office. The report is located on the right hand side under the "YOUR MONEY" heading. Also, my most recent financial disclosure report is located at the website in the "About Bob's Office" section at the bottom of
the left hand side of the page.


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