The Legislature took a long President’s Day weekend off. I got home Thursday night for the first time in six weeks. I could sleep in my own bed and have a home cooked meal — simple pleasures are often the best.
Donna had waiting for me back issues of the Kaycee Community Voice, the Buffalo Bulletin, the Sheridan Press and the Casper Star-Tribune. I caught up on those and various newsletters from organizations representing folks in the 6,200 square miles of Johnson and Sheridan counties, which make up the Senate District I represent.
Then I read the stories on Sheridan Media and Big Horn Mountain Radio that I had not previously heard.
It is an interesting exercise to get, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.” At the Legislature, we spend our days on the Senate floor or in our committees. Meanwhile, other committee meetings are going on elsewhere, as well as proceedings in the House.
We may know that a bill died or passed, but with little backstory on much of the action. Getting that information from media accounts helps lend perspective.
It is also interesting to see the same story covered from different perspectives. Sometimes the media accounts are similar, and other times there are striking differences. That is not a criticism; it is the human condition that we each see the world through different lenses.
Finally, there are differences in editorial opinion, letters to the editor and online posts. Some call for tax hikes, others for a “cuts first” approach and some for a blend of the two.
I liked the common-sense tone of an editorial in the Kaycee Community Voice, from an editor who has lived through the prior hardships of Wyoming’s economy.
Of government boards or agencies that have waited to start cutting, or have not yet done so, the editor says, in part, “How hard is it to be proactive and really look at where you can cut and still deliver services? Most of us have had to tighten our belts and cut spending at one time or another. Sometimes doing with half of what you think you have to have is not that unusual and many people do just that. I don’t think it’s asking too much for all county boards and state departments in the state to do the same. If the projections the Legislature has received are correct, this downturn could be with us for up to ten years. So, if we think it’s tough now, hang on, it’s going to get a whole lot tougher.”
From the voice of experience come words to the wise. Wyoming has been through some brutal downturns before and somehow, we made it through.
Thank you for your comments, both positive and critical. Please continue to let me know your concerns, and together we will work through this budget crisis.
Dave Kinskey represents Wyoming Senate District 22 which consists of Johnson County and eastern Sheridan County. A businessperson and former mayor of Sheridan, Kinskey can be reached at Dave.Kinskey@WyoLeg.gov or cell 751-6428.