Seating resolution material for jokes

Friday, June 7, 2002

Growing up in the Missouri Ozarks, I'll bet I've probably heard just about every joke about Arkansas ever invented. Southern Missourians may be looked down on by our big-city friends, but at least we laid claim to superiority (real or imagined) over those south of the state line.

But with the goings-on in Jefferson City this year, I'm of the opinion that the Razorback fans may just have a better clue about handling a state legislature. See, the Arkansas State Capitol was empty this year - and it wasn't just because lawmakers were out hobnobbing with lobbyists. Arkansas holds state legislative sessions every other year - meeting on odd-numbered years.

It might mean a shortage of easy editorial fodder, granted, but Show-Me State residents might also have been spared some of the finer moments of the '02 session - such as a resolution passed on the last day of the session, when everyone was scrambling to find millions of dollars and avoid dipping into the Rainy Day Fund, that would return the Senate chambers to a traditional configuration of desks. Keep in mind that the Senate opened this year's business in a chamber that had undergone $1.8 million worth of renovations.

The cost to move a bunch of desks? It could run as much as $148,000.

Some state senators now say they didn't know the potential cost of the changes. That makes them either foolish for signing off on something they didn't understand or unable to prioritize.

Maybe if Jefferson City politicians had a more restricted window to get a state budget approved plus deal with other issues, they might be better able to see the citizens for the seating arrangement.

It's issues like this that are material for jokes south of the state line.