Viewpoint: April 22, 2009

We have reached a day of reckoning for our state finances. When the state legislature begins its 2009 session on Monday, our elected officials will grapple with a budget shortfall of more than a billion dollars. There will be pressure from competing special interest groups to spare certain programs from the budget ax and to protect other lucrative tax credits.

This session is critical. Over the next two months, decisions will be made that affect all of us. Our colleges and universities face deep cuts, while the students who attend those institutions may have to pay more. The budget crisis will also affect our health care. The pressure is on our elected officials to act wisely.

We need to be a part of that process by staying informed. You can follow the debates on critical issues through news reports and by accessing live coverage on the legislature's website. If there is something that's important to you, contact your representative or senator. Let them know that you also have a special interest in what they do during this session. Remember, your legislators represent you. Make sure your voice is heard.