Charles Dickens begins The Tale of Two Cities with the words "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".
For legislators, this year was somewhere in between the two.
This year was filled with numerous challenges due to the continued lagging economy, accompanied by the most heated statewide races in years. They still managed to get some thins done: long-overdue reform and restructuring of the Employment Security Commission and cutting back spending were the most notable accomplishments of the year.
While some of the budget cuts went beyond the fat and dug down to the bone, they found they could make tough decisions with relatively little public backlash. Hopefully this will encourage them to pursue a more conservative direction when the economy recovers and revenues increase. More prudent spending in years past could have allowed them to bank away funds which could have made this downturn a little less painful.
After years of grandstanding and political games by Governor Mark Sanford, he stepped back and largely stayed out of the way, which made a tough year easier. But in a way, it's unfortunate that he did that - had he chosen a more pro-active and cooperative approach, he could have played a useful role in this year's session.
Next year, the legislature will start anew with a new Governor, an economy which has at least hit bottom, and a whole plate of challenges ahead. The Blogland will be ready and willing to speak up on those issues in need of addressing, and we hope our readers will be vocal on their issues of concern as well.
Our legislators, both those we agree with and those we don't, work hard and often value the input of concerned citizens in setting priorities and making decisions. They can't work in a vacuum, so make your voices heard.
But for now, as Sine Die (hopefully) approaches, we want to thank our state's legislators for doing a good job of enduring a tough year and wish them a well-earned summer vacation.