This morning we set the state's fate in motion.
The debate was about optimism and pessimism. It was about whether we want to cut thousands of jobs now as a preemptive measure or wait, and, only if things are worse then we expect, cut as many as we must later. The debate was about the economy and whether we could impact it with the vote we were about to make. We debated eliminating millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars in jobs and contracts to private business and whether that would affect Idahoans whose shops, restaurants, markets, farms and production facilities depend on the wages of people in their communities.
We debated the appropriate size of government and whether government schools, government health services, government prisons and government consumer protections would be improved or rendered less effective with more cuts.
The debate soon became about the glass being half full or being half empty and whether we might do something so dire as to knock the bottom out of the glass itself with our vote.
We voted and from here the glass is officially only half full. We could choose to fill it to save jobs or schools or the Republican majority here could choose to go home with 33% cuts in many budgets. Schools at levels unimaginably low, teachers gone, classrooms crowded and Idaho kids missing something they will never get back.
Our confidence that we can pull together and correct this course has officially taken an ill turn. Some legislative leaders have resigned themselves to the least of aspirations and a willingness not to sustain state jobs but to eliminate thousands of them in the weeks ahead.