Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Mike Hopkins - R
House District 92 

Hopkins' Legislative Update


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Mike Hopkins - R House District 92

This last Friday, House Bill 2 (The State Budget) passed out of the Appropriations Committee and is on its way to the House Floor for debate. At this point in the process, it looks to be in good shape. We all knew going into this legislative session that the budget was in a bad place and that there would be a lot of work to do to bring it back in line with revenues. That meant that really tough choices had to be made and they were.

Subcommittees went through each other and their own sections of the budget with a fine-toothed comb to find areas that we could trim without affecting vital services. Even while we knew that in order to bring the budget back into line structurally we would need to reduce expenditures across the board, we knew that the situation we find ourselves in was due to mismanagement on the government side. We wanted to make sure and protect services which played no real role in creating the situation, namely the Health and Human Services budget and the Education budget. I am happy to say that during executive action in Appropriations we were able to shore up all of the holes that we had been working to find money for, including Senior and Long Term care, The STARS Program, K-12 Education and Higher Educations budgets.

One of the problems with the budget is that it's a very long and complicated process. When you first start out you try to start as low as possible and build a budget up rather than starting high and cutting a budget down. At the same time, we make our budgets based on anticipated revenue in the coming years and estimating what that revenue looks like early on in the process is extremely difficult, so we try to be cautious as we build a budget to make sure we don't overdo it and get ourselves right back into the situation we are currently trying to work our way out of.

As we get closer to mid-March, the revenue projections get more and more accurate and we are able to get a clearer picture of the foundation on which we can build the budget, that means that we can feel safe plugging holes and adding back dollars where necessary.

This is still only the halfway point, there is still a long way to go and undoubtedly the budget will continue to change as the revenue picture continues to get clearer.

As always, it is an honor to represent you each day here at the capitol.


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