A hearty group of interested constituents braved the wind and rain last night for my Community Conversation on the state budget. Despite the bad weather it was warm and dry inside the Riverside Arts Center and my special guest, State Rep. Donna Lasinski, wowed the crowd with her informative and entertaining description and analysis of our complex budget process.

Rep. Lasinski laid out in detail where our state revenue comes from and how they are expended. She answered common questions such as, “I thought the lottery was supposed to pay for the schools?” and “Why not dedicate the sales tax on gasoline exclusively to fixing the roads?” And, when the conversation strayed away from the budget, she answered questions on deer hunting, gerrymandering and prison education programs, to name just a few.

Rep. Lasinski was particularly keen in her analysis of the unique challenges in this year’s budget process. She explained how the budget negotiations proceeded, where they broke down and what steps are being taken to resolve the differences between the Legislature and the governor’s office. When the budget was signed into law on Oct. 1, a government shutdown was averted, but there are still many worthy programs and nearly $1 billion still in limbo.

I want to thank everyone who participated in last night’s Community Conversation on our state budget. The input I received will help guide me through the process of negotiating the upcoming supplemental appropriations bills that will finally put the fiscal year 2019-20 budget to rest. Special thanks to State Rep. Donna Lasinski for her insight and her friendship.