Discussion:What kind of state do the people want?
INTERIM COMMISSION TO STUDY FISCAL STABILITY
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03:18 PM -- Discussion:What kind of state do the people want?
The commission discussed different ways to think about our vision for the state. The group then suggested possible vision statements including: a commitment to a republican form of government, social justice, increased opportunity, growing a diversified economy, maintaining existing resources, work force development, etc.
Mr Coors made the point that our desire to provide certain services is disconnected from the availability of the necessary resources to meet those needs. He remarked that we must begin to define and discuss the core functions of government as a better place to begin. We need to understand our revenue stream and the ability to meet our needs (vs. our wants) against this revenue stream. It is therefore difficult to really define what we want for the state other than to require that the state live within its means and create incentives for the public to take part in solving problems. Mr. Coors made the following three points:
We need to be good stewards of the core functions of government;
We must develop a strategy for increasing reserves in good times to prepare ourselves for lean times; and
We must ensure that our expenses are less than our revenues.
Ms. Boigon reminded the commission that we must look to the future and create investments today so that our infrastructure is ready to satisfy future structural needs.
Senator Brophy remarked that there is agreement that even if we cannot define what kind of state we want, we can and should identify what the core services are that the state can provide. If we can't figure out what everyone wants, we better be able to identify what everyone needs. Senator Brophy concluded that the core functions for government are security and liberty. Beyond these, the state also has responsibility for education and increasing economic opportunity.
Representative Gerou remarked that we are changing our discussion. Instead of asking what we want government to do, the commission has been discussing what we need government to do. What are government's core functions? She concluded that this is a positive thing and should be the focus for the commission.
Mr. Conway reiterated these similar sentiments: we should be discussing what the core functions of government should be. He listed prisons, the judiciary, transportation and highways, education, and health care.
Ms. Cooke came to similar conclusions as the other commissioners. She remarked that core functions are the proper place for the commission's focus: public safety, infrastructure, and education. The second piece of the conversation is figuring out how to pay for these.
Mr. Hume envisions a state that is conducive to business and also to fostering good, affordable higher education options. Mr Hume remarked that the state does share a responsibility to take care of those citizens who cannot take care of themselves.
Representative Court wants a robust Preschool through grade 12 system that ensures all kids are educated for a 21st century world. We need a properly-funded higher education system to develop these intellectual resources within the state. Higher education should be public and affordable for the state's citizens. Caring for people is a core function of government. Caring for the least among us makes us a civil society. Sentencing for corrections is a crucial place for revision and reform. Transportation must be addressed, especially our failing infrastructure.
The commission engaged in a lengthy dialogue around the meaning of the core functions of government
The commission ended up their conversation with some closing remarks and adjourned until Thursday, August 20.
Ms. Lynne asked about the products this commission might produce. Senator Heath indicated that this would occur during the last 2 - 3 days of scheduled meetings.