The first week of the 2014 Legislature was relatively boring for outsiders, because lawmakers spent that time focusing on budgetary matters and not considering much legislation. Sen. Lyle Hillyard says that change is how it should be.
“The budget is the most important thing we do, but people were complaining they never got a chance to really dig into the budget,” says Hillyard.
Hillyard talks about how the shift in budget focus is actually part of a changing culture for lawmakers. Instead of focusing on legislation, now they have to make sure the state’s fiscal house is in order before getting to legislation.
“Every member of the committee is going to have an understanding on how the money was spent. Now they will be focused on that new money. The whole process is going to change the focus of the budget away from piecemeals and add-ons.”
Lawmakers are reportedly facing a record number of bills this year. Hillyard admits there may be some regrets for legislators as they have cut down on the time available to consider legislation, but he thinks the change will lead to a better overall outcome.
“We’re not up here to pass as many bills as we can pass, we’re here to do the budget. I hope we change the culture up here. It’s not a race to pass bills, it’s a pace to pass a solid budget.”