The Senate floor is warm and, with all the hours we've spent here now, the place seems somewhat homey and a bit less like working in a museum. The brads on the chairs have dug notches into the wood desk and the pages have had to pull the red curtains back to expose hidden vents so we have more air. We are settling again into the place, good or bad, just as we are about to leave for real for this legislative session, this election cycle.
We are going into the amending order to change some bills, then out to pass the Department of Administration's budget. Why we are waiting I can only imagine. Perhaps someone is hoping to put a bit of fear of god in Mike Gwartney. I don't know. The budget has some pretty nifty strings in it. It directs him to stop cutting state employee benefits and shoving the savings into the $100 million or so in reserves he is now sitting on. Still the budget gives out the whole $3 million to the Idaho Education Network scandal mess. While we have set up new legislative elements to the oversight, depending on who those individuals are it may or may not simply allow Qwest to proceed in spending dollars they were inappropriately granted as they were neither the lowest nor the best graded bid in the contract to build the high tech network for Idaho public schools.
But we are winding down, debating more law suits in the endless stream of those we are inviting, taking up and simply subjecting ourselves to by passing glaringly poorly drafted legislation. I would wager we might set a record for money spent on law suits this coming year, at the same time we will not give $150,000 to pay for life-saving medications for people with Cystic Fibrosis, some of whom will be hospitalized. Some could face life threatening consequences or even die. But this legislature has its priorities. Law suits. Defending and Initiating law suits. Lawyers. Huge legal fees.