It's 2010. Do you know where your legislative debate is? On Facebook, of course. During and after Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter's State of the State speech this week, several lawmakers, with whom citydesk is "friends," posted their reactions on the ubiquitous social networking site as well as on Twitter, the ubiquitous social stalking site.
Sen. Dean Cameron, co-chairman of the budget committee, posted this: "First day of session has come to a close. The Governor gave a difficult but good speech. Tomorrow we will get some of the details of his budget reccomendations [sic]. I am now doing homework reading proposed legislation and budget documents."
He got four comments and three "likes."
Rep. Marv Hagedorn of Meridian wrote: "Consolidation is the name of the game for Idaho to save money and balance budgets. Combining some agencies and as well as some functions to reduce redundency [sic]. Good State of the State by Gov. Otter, we have challenges ... but Idahoans are up to the task!"
Boise Rep. Nicole LeFavour wrote with her usual poetic flair: "Otter offers no solutions. No leadership. Horrid ideological cuts (these are tiny parts of the budget) he says he will eliminate all state $ for Idaho Public Television, Idaho Human Rights Commission, Commission on Hispanic Affairs & the 3 agencies who advocate for people with disabilities. So little regard or respect. So cruel."
But the best was found in the comments to Boise Rep. Brian Cronin's status update, in which he used the word "decimate" in the same sentence as school funding. Hagedorn piped up in the comments: "I'm not sure I would call a recommended 1.6% reduction 'decimating' Brian ... looking at the budget recommendations, it appears that the lowest cut recommended was to K-12. Where would you have reduced to meet the revenue estimates?"
And Cronin responded in kind: "Marv: 'Decimate' may be a tad strong for current K12 holdbacks, but I think it's a fair description of what we've done to higher ed over the last several years."
Maybe they can just use Facebook's voting app and save on the Statehouse power bill this year.
Gov. Otter got into the social networking game himself Monday, setting up a new budget forum on his office's Web site. You can find the link to the discussion forum on the upper right of efficiency.idaho.gov.
A dozen ideas appeared on the site over night. Anyone can register, post an idea to save money and then use their 10 votes to pick the best ideas. You can also leave comments that the state will monitor for profanity but not necessarily craziness.
Among the ideas submitted: four-day work weeks, no kindergarten, move the Office of Species Conservation under the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and reduce smoking related diseases.
The state did not have to pay for the Web technology, by the way, saving a few hours of staff time.