Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Some believe "March Madness" relates to athletic competitions held in March, especially basketball tournaments. Others use this phrase when they refer to March weather in Iowa.

While all of these people may be correct, I am quite convinced that these words describe the atmosphere that exists at the Capitol right now. With a revised budget, another funnel week, revenue shortfalls and budget cuts on the agenda and adjournment scheduled for mid-April, it is no wonder tempers sometimes flare and people become short with each other. Add to this some late night debates, and the stage is set for some big time "March Madness." Let's just hope that since March came in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb.

Not only is this a tense time in a legislative session, it can also become very frustrating. I have written about budget problems many times this year, trying to explain to the people in my area just what is happening with their tax dollars. Remember, government has no money except for what it extracts from its citizens. By law, state government cannot spend more that it takes in. As of now, revenue is coming in at a rate of .73 percent higher than last year, and is projected to grow by 1.8 percent for FY2003. The Governor's revised budget increases spending by 5.8 percent. You do the math at home. I'm frustrated, and maybe a little angry, too.

In fact, it is probably not worth going into detail right now as to how the Governor proposes to "balance" the budget because, quite frankly, he doesn't. The numbers speak for themselves. It is no wonder the Wall Street Journal gave him an "F" for his fiscal management of the state.

Dan Huseman,

State Representative,