Compromise on the budget
Members of the Indiana General Assembly had only one task they were absolutely required to get done this session: Approve a new-two-year budget for the state.
They seem to have crafted a reasonable, balanced one, and their work on it shows that deliberation, cooperation and compromise are still possible, even when both the House and Senate have a supermajority of Republicans who can do pretty much anything they please.
Yes, compromise – real compromise. That word is too often used to insist on an agreement between two groups who have profound philosophical differences on such difficult issues as abortion, gun control and immigration. The only way to find “common ground” in those cases is for one side to turn its back on its fundamental values.
The budget compromise, however, was pure give and take.
A tame and modest session
As this session of the General Assembly began, we wrote about the worry that Republicans, with supermajorities in both the House and Senate, might push too hard on an ideological agenda at the expense of more pragmatic concerns.
At the end of the session, then, it should be reported that they did not.
In fact, the most remarkable thing about this session was how modest it was.
That is not meant as criticism. There have been several sessions now with truly momentous legislation, the effects of which we still do not know.
So this was a good session to pause and reflect. And this editorial page has never been known to complain of too little government.
Of course, celebration of this relatively quiet session was not a universal sentiment.
All of the laws all of the time
Civilization is in a sorry state when a representative of the law promises lawlessness and is cheered for it.
Elkhart County Sheriff Bradley Rogers told about 200 people at a weekend gun rights rally that he pledges to oppose all future gun control legislation. Furthermore, “I will not allow gun confiscation in my county, and I will not enforce any additional anti-gun laws.”
Presumably that’s what most in the crowd wanted to hear – at least they applauded the sheriff loudly.
But such selectivity breeds contempt for the law. A bad law should be struck down through the legislative process. A law of dubious constitutionality should be challenged in court.
But while a law is on the books, it must be enforced. That applies to all of the laws all of the time.
A fit over the tax cut
Liberals are having a fit over the recently approved 5 percent cut in the state’s income tax, and they’ve coalesced around a central argument.
Here’s a typical version it, from an editorial in the Bloomington Herald-Times:
“For those who like averages, the ‘average’ Hoosier would realize $114 in annual tax savings, or $2.19 a week. It’s a symbolic gesture, meant to show the governor and lawmakers are on Hoosiers’ side by throwing them a few bucks that could have totaled something of significance if channeled to programs designed to improve education, help senior citizens or shore up the safety net for people living in poverty.”
It won’t do you any good, and we can put it to so much better use! It’s the flip side of the argument they always use to increase taxes.
Sending the wrong signal?
The kids are going to do it anyway, so let’s just make sure we protect them as much as possible. You’ve heard all the variations of that argument. They’re going to drink anyway, so let’s make sure we provide rides for them on prom night. They’re going to have sex anyway, so let’s hand out condoms in high school.
But there is a danger adults send the wrong signals with such actions, creating at least as much harm as good: the signal that teen drinking is OK; the signal that it’s fine for teenage boys to pressure teenage girls for sex; the signal that children can do whatever they want because the adults will always be there to shield them from the consequence of their actions.
Children have always lacked judgment, but “children being children” isn’t the problem. The problem is the growing number of adults not willing to be adults.