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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Sometimes we just get a little confused in life.
When the column submitted by state Rep. Russell Webber’s staff in Frankfort came through the e-mail, I was admittedly confused.
The basis of the article is that local communities had road projects stricken from the governor’s new transportation plan submitted to the legislature last week.
The premise of the column is that legislators who voted against a measure to allow the gas tax to increase were being penalized and had lost road projects.
So, as I read through the column, I got concerned. I hadn’t heard any voices locally talk about projects which had been cut out.
Trying to figure things out, I got a copy of the governor’s plan and compared it to one he released in late January.
For Bullitt County, the list was identical even though Webber voted against the gas tax hike.
That just added to the confusion. So, when confused, you go right to the source.
Webber said that he did vote against the gas tax, even if only on principles.
Back in 2009, legislators told voters that the tax could be variable for five years but that when the wholesale price dropped, the tax rate would drop.
To the consumer, the tax, less than two cents per gallon, might mean little. To the transportation road plan, it meant that $2.6 billion was cut in the latest version.
But, to those who remember that legislators from both sides of the aisle gave their word, Webber said it was important.
Rightly, Webber said that people are tired of hearing politicians say one thing and not keep their word.
So, with millions of dollars earmarked for the transportation cabinet for projects gone, what would happen to those who voted against raising the rate?
Fortunately, in this version, nothing was lost.
Webber said Bullitt County did not suffer. But many parts of the state did suffer and it would be those who didn’t support the tax change who suffered.
More correctly, their constituents suffered.
One reason is that state officials understand that cutting transportation projects in Bullitt County would be similar to cutting off their noses to spite themselves.
Working with state economic development officials, Webber said they know that Bullitt County is one area of the commonwealth which is seeing positive job growth.
“We are vitally important to the economy of this area,” said Webber. “We’re a vibrant part of the state’s economy.”
He is correct.
And it would be unproductive for the state officials to cut funds which will help move traffic, especially in high volume areas.
When Bullitt County EDA director John Snider needed an immediate letter from Webber on the PortWest project, the local representative was able to hand deliver it.
He enjoys the opportunities to work together, no matter the party affiliation.
That being said, Webber said the road project situation he outlines below displays the problem with partisan politics - no matter the party in power.
The hope is that the budget will not be the issue it was two years ago. The hope is that it can be done without forcing legislators to come back into a costly special session.
Webber’s biggest concern is the way the process works.
Instead of giving legislators a couple of days to study a major bill, such as the budget, documents are dumped at the last minute.
Legislators don’t have the time to study the pros and cons. If they don’t have time to study, guess they better go with the party of their choice.
Webber would like to see a rule imposed requiring at least 48 hours to study something as detailed as the budget.
While this week’s column attached to Webber does carry some of his viewpoints, it is also the point of view that the Republican Party wants to get out.
No matter the author, the views of the party will be the main focus. Has always been this way and don’t look for it to change.
What is more refreshing are the unrehearsed views. Having a rule of giving legislators 48 hours before they vote on a bill. Allowing the members of the General Assembly to stop worrying about what letter is behind their name and what happens if they happen to vote the wrong way.
We would expect the proposed road projects will stay in the budget, whenever it is approved.
We would hope that the budget issues can be settled without going into “overtime.”
We would hope that the idea of requiring a set period of time to allow legislators to study a proposal could be passed.
Of course, if these things were done, there might be a possibility that this old writer would not be so confused.
But, then again, if they did any of these ideas, I would probably be more confused than ever.