"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Roses & Remorse

Let's start with the roses, shall we? A much more cheerful item than the other.

Rose of the Day: Celsiana In past years I've taken time to provide historical thumbnail of my roses. Right now, time does not permit. I invite you to trawl my archives for previous late June/early July rose reports, fuller than I can provide right now. Celsiana is an old variety of damask, dating from about the middle of the 18th century. This blossom probably peaked yesterday. She gets blowsier and looser over time. Her fragrance is indescribable!

Rose de Rescht. It's old, too, a variety of Portland rose, meaning it repeat blooms. Theoretically.

Rosa rugosa alba.

Henry Kelsey, bright red Canadian climber.

Now the remorse.

Tomorrow the House & Senate vote on the state budget for the 2010-2011 biennium, which begins on July 1st--next week. It's practically my last vote of this 2009 session, and undoubtedly the hardest of all. Budgeting in these economic times is fraught with bad choices.

Ever since the House/Senate Committee of Conference report was issued at approximately 1:15 a.m. Friday morning, I've received phone calls and emails and letters from persons who will be adversely affected--financially--by my decision to vote yes tomorrow. And I've heard from individuals who will be adversely affected if I vote no. As an illustration, I just got off the phone with someone (not a constituent) who had left a message on my answerphone. She believes she's likely to lose her job if the budget passes tomorrow. I hope and pray she's wrong. I explained the reasons I felt compelled to pass the budget--apologetically. I asked whether she'd shared her story with all the other members. She said I was the only one who phoned her back.

As people say so often, "This budget has something for everyone to hate in it." For me, there are many things I dislike. Things I wanted that aren't there. Things there that I loathe. But I realise the consequences of not passing a budget are far worse. Our state can't even afford the passage of a continuing resolution so we can come back in a few months for a do-over. Because during those months we'd be living by a budget crafted 2 years ago...in a different economy. We no longer receive enough state revenues to support those expenditures. So we'd be another $35 million (or more) in the hole. And by law, our budget must balance.

One thing I didn't expect to see in the final version: the FEMA buyout matching funds for my flood-ravaged constituents, is there. Fourteen people whose homes are condemed, unliveable, unsafe, unsaleable will rejoice. I'm so thankful this bill I co-sponsored and fought for so hard has survived the chipping away process of recent weeks. And yet...I'm confronted with all the "dislikes."

I spent today with leadership, with the Governor, with members from both parties, with my party caucus. Hour after hour of information sharing, speculation, a lot of dread expressed about the consequences if we don't pass this budget.

I admit there have been times the past 24 hours when I considered taking the coward's way out by phoning in sick tomorrow. And I wouldn't be faking. Yesterday I woke with a painful sore throat, earache, headache, all the aches. Seems to be a virulent strain of summer cold--not that this week's weather deserves the term "summer." No medical excuse for me to dodge a difficult vote. In the morning I'll dope myself to the max and get myself to the State House and do my duty. Remorsefully.

To end on a brighter note, at midday the Speaker of the House hosted her annual Ice Cream Social. (Held indoors, due to the aforementioned unseasonal weather.) Nothing goes down a sore throat better than cold black raspberry ice cream, so for me it was the perfect "lunch"! I had seconds.

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