Ask any elected official what one of the toughest parts of our job is and I’m willing to bet you they would answer “Having to say ‘no'”. If they don’t say that or admit to that during a conversation, they might not be saying “no” enough.

Seriously, if all I did was try to make everyone in the world happy and be a “Yes Man”; being an elected official would be a much more enjoyable job than it sometimes is.

I’m not gonna rehash the whole stimulus battle, if you’ve been reading Nathans News you can see what I’m talking about. Saying “no” isn’t easy. Most people think you’re crazy. Most politicians think the same thing.

Why not say “yes” and worry about it later? Sometimes, you gotta say no in life.

Ask volunteers who are always helping with every cause/organization that comes their way – because they can’t say “no”. Those folks get burned out easy and something gets sacrificed. Ask any parent. Is it easier not having to tell your children “no”? Sure. But where would that get you? Where would that get them?

What got me thinking about this tonight was a bill we adjourned today. At first glance it doesn’t seem like that big a deal, H3254. Simply put, the bill would provide bonuses to certain speech-language pathologists for the job they do and certification they carry. Kinda like National Board Certification but on a much smaller scale.

The thing is – why are we even introducing this bill at a time when our state budget is in a huge mess?

I imagine it’s because members may say “no biggie…we can’t fund it now….it’ll only get funded WHEN we have money.” At first glance that was my initial thought until questions were asked. Questions like “How much will this cost? How many will be effected? etc.” Debate was adjourned because we were told we don’t have all those answers. We did hear “maybe 400 people” and, reading the bill it appears $3,000 bonus, so I’d imagine we’re looking at $120,000 every year once the bill becomes law. (UPDATE: Thanks, Paul…’s more like $1.2 Million)

Folks, it’s bills like this that (when added up) put us in tough spots in state government.

It’s bills like this that require on-the-record voting so that elected officials can pause, deliberate, and question “Do I want to be on record for this?” Without our new rule changes, bills like these often aren’t even given consideration they should (rightly or wrongly) and often would pass on voice votes.

Now, I’m not saying the idea is terrible or that certain speech-language pathologists don’t deserve more pay and that they don’t perform a valuable role in our state. What I am saying is that elected officials have to sometimes say “no”.

In doing so, we make people upset. In doing so, we don’t have fun. In doing so, we’re sometimes thinking of the bigger picture and trying to avoid unintended consequences instead of just living for the day and making people happy.