By Representative Tom Loertscher, R-Bone
George Bernard Shaw said that youth is wasted on the young, but as I looked over the large group of 4-H youth at the annual Know Your Government breakfast I’m not sure his thesis is valid. These kids, especially those from our area, are sharp, eager to learn and determined to achieve. Mr. Shaw must not have known many young people like these.
I receive a little magazine from John Deere called The Furrow. There are some really interesting articles and each issue contains what they call Fun & Philosophy. One little item this issue is from Winston Churchill, “One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. It you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.”
Our first big debate of the session took place this week over whether or not to allow the Cost of Living Allowance granted by the board governing the state retirement fund to take affect. These are tough times and I don’t know many folks that couldn’t use a little more money. The debate, after clearing all of the emotional issues aside, centers around one simple fact. The gap between what is earned and contributed and what is being paid in benefits is widening. This is known as the unfunded liability. Even though there is a healthy balance on hand, we are headed for a wreck if each year more is paid out than is coming in. As unpleasant as it may be, meeting the danger of putting the fund in jeopardy promptly will ultimately reduce the danger and insure the soundness of the fund.
The pace has also picked up in most committees, with longer meetings and more legislation being deliberated. Two proposed constitutional amendments have cleared State Affairs and will be debated by the full House early this next week. There is one yet to come for the cities that have power generating facilities so that they can enter into long term power purchasing agreements.
Also in The Furrow this time is an article about precision farming. Imagine that, precision in farming. Coupled with the article is an ad with a picture of the cab of a brand new tractor with two electronic monitors, one to watch multiple tractor functions and the other to run the GPS guidance system. It’s not as crazy as it sounds because putting seed, chemicals and fertilizers at precise spacing actually saves, big time. I couldn’t help but think of our budgets this year and how they are going to need more precision than ever before, watching every penny. And as odd as it may seem, that precision is going to have to take place in the field more than around these halls. We’ll just provide the incentives and the flexibility.
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