Legislators gavel themselves into session on Monday and once again must tackle the issue that won't go away: How to balance a budget in times of declining oil revenues.
Voters already said in an advisory vote that an income tax is not an option. But it is also not possible to cut our way out of the budget deficit the state currently is running.
While there is still room for responsible trimming of state spending, basic support for public safety, corrections, roads, health and welfare, schools and public facilities must be maintained, and the growing problem of deferred maintenance of public facilities hangs over the state budget like a dark cloud.
Shifting the costs to municipalities is also not responsible. At some point, people will have to shoulder some of the costs that have been paid for by oil royalties these past two decades.
We welcome our legislators to the capital and understand that the problem of budgeting responsibly is complex. Although oil prices are currently high, now is the time to get our fiscal house in order. Let's evaluate the long-term plans that have been guiding principles these past few years and make the adjustments where needed. One thing is certain: Legislators must be willing to make the tough decisions on behalf of the citizenry. This is why we elect them, and this is what we expect them to do.
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