Legislators must focus on budget

Budget cuts seem to be foremost in everyone’s mind these days — everyone it seems but our elected officials.

Budget cutting seemed to get short shrift during the President’s State of the Union address this week. The words investment came up quite a bit, which I’m sure is political code for “spending.” Federal lawmakers aren’t under the gun at all so don’t expect anything much to happen anytime soon in Washington but things at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe have got to be a little more frantic. Those folks have 60 days and a balanced budget requirement. They’re going to need a little help and encouragement.

A quick count in the legislative bill locator showed that somewhere around 700 bills had already been introduced by late last week. Some had budget cutting at their heart but most weren’t tossed into the hopper to save on red ink.

All that political fodder no doubt will end up being printed and passed around costing us all a fortune and one or two forests. Even our cost conscious freshman governor hasn’t figured out how to save on paper. She had a photo op this week where she had printed out a stack of some 1,700 e-mailed tips on cost cutting from state staffers and citizens.

The governor was off to a good start when she sacked the two over-paid chefs at the mansion but legislators need to step up too. How about restricting them to a diet of street vendor burritos and warm beer until we get this budget under control. It’ll save money and I’m betting committee meetings will move a lot faster. We should strive for nothing less than efficiency in the bowels of our government.

Space — it’s the final frontier and that’s exactly where it ought to rate on the budget. What good is a spaceport in the middle of nowhere if it costs us science classes in our public schools. If we’re not educated enough to grasp the reasons behind space travel then a spaceship just becomes an amusement park ride for the rich.

I missed the episode of Star Trek where Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock docked the Enterprise at spaceport in the New Mexico badlands.

Hollywood doesn’t need anymore of our state budget. We gave them liberal amounts and got “No Country For Old Men” in return. A madman chasing and killing people with a bolt gun used to kill cattle in a slaughterhouse. How creative is that. The next time the Coen brothers want to make a movie let ‘em use some of the millions they made on the remake of “True Grit.”

New Mexico’s foray into high-speed rail, The Railrunner, needs a little purpose tweaking in light of our ongoing budget issues. I’m envisioning freight cars on that line, loaded with manure coming out of Santa Fe and destined to fertilize green chile and hay in the lower Rio Grande Valley. It would be a contribution to sustainability in our state. Hay means more beef and, well, that green chile will taste great in those burritos.