By on January 20, 2015

PROPSFistbumpEnzi tackles the math

Senator Mike Enzi, a self-admitted “numbers guy,” will be chairing the Budget Committee in Washington. It’s an honor Enzi was made for and, surprisingly, the first time a trained accountant has actually served as chair.

Enzi will attempt to whittle away at the $18 trillion federal deficit – something he says Americans and especially Wyomingites are very interested in dealing with.

“I’m very excited about [the appointment],” Enzi told Wyoming Public Radio. “It is nice to be in the majority and it’s nice to be a chairman again. It’s good to play offense instead of just defense.”

Republicans control both chambers in the U.S. Congress and wield all gavels on Capitol Hill. Wyoming’s senior senator is respected for his likeability. Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis-R called Enzi well situated to take on the role and use it to help his home state on issues like abandoned mine lands money, where Wyoming has been shafted by feds for years now.

Lummis sang Enzi’s praises to WPR. “He interestingly was voted by staffers as the nicest senator, which is – you know, he’s nice to everybody. He’s nice to everybody on Capitol Hill,” she said. “And he has been very gracious towards other members of both parties during his entire tenure here. So he has respect, he has camaraderie; and I think that you’re going to see this role for Mike Enzi perhaps being his crowning achievement here in the Congress.”

Voted by staffers as ‘the nicest senator,’ Mike Enzi is taking his number knowledge to Washington. PHOTO: MIKE ENZI

Voted by staffers as ‘the nicest senator,’ Mike Enzi is taking his number knowledge to Washington. PHOTO: MIKE ENZI

Even Democrats dig Enzi. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine-D serves on the budget committee with Enzi and looks forward to working with him.

“He is an old fashioned guy in the sense of civility and courtesy,” Kaine said. “[He’s all about] ‘let’s listen to each other even if we have very different points of view. If we listen to each other maybe we’ll find some commonalities.’ I think he’ll be a good chair.”

Enzi is expected to push his Penny Plan – a unique proposal to cut spending by one penny for every dollar the government spends.

DISSTongueLawmakers go back to school

Wyoming legislators sometimes get caught up with trying to fix problems that don’t exist. It’s one of the pitfalls of spending seven weeks at the state capitol. (“Well, here we are; we have to do something,” many of our 63rd Legislative Session members believe).

Education will and should be a major topic of interest. Wyoming outspends every state in the Union– throwing nearly $18,000 at each student while the national average is $11,735, according to Ed Week data. Yet, Wyoming continually ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to standardized test results. Wyoming admittedly has work to do, but introducing a bill that would change how the Superintendent of Public Instruction is placed is like mending a spinnaker while the boat is leaking profusely.

The Cindy Hill incident still has lawmakers shook up. Some can’t see past the bitter feud to get to weightier issues like PAWS, Common Core, and developing new policy and program implementation to get better results. The proposed constitutional amendment would change the school superintendent position from an elected one to an appointed one. Current super Jillian Ballow-R has already gone on record saying she doesn’t like the idea.

Joint resolution HJ2 barely squeaked out of committee and seems like an extension of the bad blood that boiled over into the unconstitutional Senate File 104 bill of last year. Lawmakers should focus on making sure the state’s public education system continues to be well funded and some kind of measuring tool and accountability is built in.

PROPSFistbumpLand lock

Retired U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl’s donation to the public of 990 acres along the Gros Ventre River is extremely generous and will allow backcountry users more access to the upper Gros Ventre River south of Bacon Creek and Sunday Peak.

The preservation of this land and its return to public hands via the USFS came about through the efforts of the Jackson Hole Land Trust and the Trust for Public Lands. TPL will hold on to the property for a few years before turning it over to the Bridger Teton National Forest. It leaves the Darwin Ranch as the only privately held land locking up the historic thru-migration of Jackson to Pinedale via the historic Gros Ventre River.

Retired U.S. Sen. Herb Khol gives the gift of rivers. PHOTO: WISCONSIN PUBLIC TELEVISION

Retired U.S. Sen. Herb Khol gives the gift of rivers. PHOTO: WISCONSIN PUBLIC TELEVISION

Along those lines, the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance has also done a yeoman’s job of stewarding land and protecting open space in the valley for years. The agency debuts its Agenda 22 tonight at 5:30 p.m. with a potluck dinner to be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church, located at 168 N. Glenwood.

“Agenda 22 will explain the challenges we face as a community, a positive vision of responding to these challenges, balanced solutions we can adopt to achieve this vision, stories of people working to make this vision reality, indicators we can use to measure our progress toward this vision, and tangible things you can do to help make it happen,” the nonprofit organization said in a statement.

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