After four months of silly games and petty politics, lawmakers ended their 2009 session without fulfilling their only constitutional duty: passage of a new state budget. Despite a winter and spring spent cashing paychecks from taxpayers and enjoying free meals from lobbyists, the General Assembly failed Indiana.
First, the General Assembly is in dire need of new leaders. The annual brawls between House Speaker Pat Bauer and Republican leader Brian Bosma have turned the House into a gridlocked embarrassment. Second, there is a stunning lack of effective rebels in either chamber willing to challenge their legislative bosses and the old way of doing things. Third, if things don't change and if the legislature doesn't start thinking less about politics and more about policy, Indiana is going to sink even further behind other states.
The Star Editorial Board also took on the pathetic Session in an editorial titled 'A sad state of legislative leadership', which started with:
Rating the Indiana General Assembly's sessions is like rating Chicago Cubs seasons. The scale typically runs from disappointing to bad, to dismal to disastrous.
The legislative session that expired Wednesday night deserves a spot on the low end of that register for several reasons, including lawmakers' failure to complete a state budget before they adjourned. Now, taxpayers must bear the cost of a special session at a time when revenues are falling and services are squeezed. That's a minor concern in the scheme of things, but it does illustrate how ineffective and even irresponsible lawmakers were over the course of the session.
These are representative cases where the role of the Press in a free society is to call out elected officials who do not do the work of the people. This is a good thing.
But come election time, lets watch closely for who the Star endorses. While it is clear that Dan Burton will definitely feel the Star's wrath, will they settle for that token gesture? Will they do their usual thing of shedding crocodile tears for the state of our city, state and nation, then endorse all but one or two incumbents?