• 63°

Compromise allows budget success for all

As the days and weeks tick away and the second quarter of thenew year gets under way, state lawmakers find themselves wrappingup work on the 2011 legislative session.

While the session was supposed to end Saturday, disagreements overthe budget delayed its conclusion and lawmakers will be back at theCapitol Monday to finalize spending plans for the new year thatstarts July 1.

Although agreement on the budget – perennially a legislativesticking point – has been reached, so far left unresolved are theissues of redistricting and the possibility of construction of acivil rights museum and state history museum. The redistrictingissue could be headed to the courts and the museum matter could beaddressed in a special session planned to coincide with Monday’slawmaker return.

As for the local impact of the budget, Lincoln County lawmakerssaid the area fared about as well as could be expected given thedifficult economic issues involved.

The arts school will remain, area mental health facilities receivedmoney to remain operational and level funding was approved forschools across the state.

Details about local level school funds were somewhat unknownquantities late in the week, but the county’s lawmakers soundedsatisfied that local revenue would not be needed to make up for anystate shortfalls. And revenue from a federal jobs bills is alsoavailable to help school districts next year.

Did everyone participating in the state budget process geteverything they wanted? They crystal clear answer is no.

Gov. Haley Barbour and Senate Republicans surely would have likedto cut some more spending and leave more revenue in reserves tobetter weather future economic uncertainties. House Democrats, onthe other hand, wanted to spend more to better address importantneeds like education, mental health and homestead reimbursementmoney to counties.

At the end of the day, though, negotiators faced the economic andpolitical realities and reached a compromise. That is one facet ofthe art of politics.

The ability to compromise has remained rather elusive on thefederal level, however, as liberals and conservatives, includingthe tea party component, struggle to find common ground. There wereindications Friday that an agreement on spending cuts wasnear.

While federal lawmakers also missed their deadline for budgetagreement, continuing resolutions have kept the government fromshutting down. The government’s authority to spend money ends thisFriday.

President Obama and congressional leaders are playing a dangerousgame by risking a government shutdown. The last election saw abacklash against incumbents and a shutdown could produce anotherwave next year.

The old adage is that no one wants to see how sausage and politicsare made.

Recent events again prove the validity of that statement. But asstate lawmakers have shown, compromise can allow everyone to be atleast satisfied when the work is done.