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Lawmakers got an earful on budget

The state legislators preparing to reconvene in Topeka Wednesday to try to close a $400 million-plus budget gap have a lot to think about, thanks to input received at packed forums and otherwise. The closing question at a meeting of area county officials last week in Colby put it especially bluntly: "I just want to compliment you gentlemen for coming out and having the courage to show your faces in public," Gove County Commissioner Mahlon Tuttle told the panel of lawmakers. "You got the state broke. You got schools broke. You decimated mental health and developmental services. I really haven't heard you say what you're doing to do about it. Or what you want us to do." The lawmakers pointed to the global recession and county leaders' own responsibility to respond to it. But the mood is tense this session, acknowledged state Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, in the Hays Daily News. "This is the first year I've gotten e-mails — I don't want to say they're threatening, but they're impolite. They don't trust my judgment."