As the 2008 legislative session begins, there are harsh realities facing lawmakers. It’s sure to be a tight budget year with budget projections in some instances showing only a modest amount of new money available for issues like education, health care, veterans, mental health and roads and highways. That makes the job of Rogers County’s core group of lawmakers, Senator Sean Burrage and Representatives Tad Jones, Ben Sherrer and Chuck Hoskin, even more difficult.

Oklahoma’s fastest growing county, and rapidly becoming one of the largest outside of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, has unique needs. Whether it’s addressing the train and transportation issues that clog our roads and streets, the growth of RSU, the Veterans Center, our museums or making RSU TV digital, our local lawmakers will have to be especially creative and a cohesive unit in order to have hopes of addressing any of these important local matters.

The reality is that Claremore and Rogers County are particularly dependent upon what happens in Oklahoma City. When you have a state-funded university, two museums, television station, veterans center and unique transportation needs, it requires bipartisan cooperation among the core members of your delegation and diligence in pressing their colleagues for assistance.

Burrage has gained stature in the Senate in his first year. Jones, as dean of the delegation, chairs the all important Education Appropriations Subcommittee and has a growing role inside the Republican caucus. Sherrer and Hoskin are key leaders in the Democratic caucus in the House.

Fortunately for our area, these lawmakers all work together and make an effort to put Rogers County needs on the front burner. It will require such an effort if any progress is going to come from a legislative session that’s already proving to have it’s share of controversial and partisan-driven challenges.