While they insisted to remain anonymous, several long-time ag veterans circulating around the Indiana statehouse last week found themselves in an unfamiliar position. They didn't know how to respond to questions about how things might turn out with this session. The extreme move by the Democrats of abandoning ship for an extended period has left everything in a state of uncertainty. That could continue even after they return.
One sage old observer, however, says that this type of political ploy has happened before, and has been pulled on both sides. It's the only way the minority can get its point across, whether you agree with the tactic or not. As one observer noted, Indiana law doses not allow for filibusters. He reckoned the Democrat walkout that occurred was their version of a filibuster that can occur in Congress when one party doesn't want to face the inevitable—having to vote knowing they are in the minority, and hoping the winds of public opinion will change some votes before they relinquish the floor.
What is new this time, the most sage of all observers commented, is that the political party walking out went out of state. To his knowledge, it's the first time that has occurred, although not the first time one party or the other has temporarily boycotted the chamber to put off an unpleasant debate or vote.
The work that remains includes passing a budget, required of this legislative session. It will be a two-year budget to guide the state through 2012. Governor Daniel's budget that he sent to the Assembly called for no extra money for Clean Water Indiana. In effect, it cut $500,000 from Clean Water Indiana for each of the next two years. This despite the fact that the Lt. Governor has been outspoken in trying to leverage state dollars to get federal dollars flowing into Indiana through such programs as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or CREP.
Members of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation District board of directors say that if the money is not restored into the final budget, it will affect how much money districts get to work with in the next two years. Plain facts show that soil and water conservation districts are among the most efficient units of government anywhere in returning dollars of value per dollar spent.
Stay tuned—this session is far from over, even though the calendar marches toward the two-thirds way point of the session.