With the 2019 legislative session starting Jan. 14, Rep. Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II (R-Greenfield) is vowing to House District 20 that he’ll do his best to work with both Republicans and Democrats to accomplish what is best for his constituents. For now, he’s focused on getting his feet wet, starting the session off on the right foot.
All freshmen legislators, including Sorensen, were invited recently to the Capitol for a housekeeping-type session.
Sorensen, who defeated Warren Varley (D-Stuart) in November’s election, has clerked in the House of Representatives before.
“We kind of showed up, they gave us a tour of the capitol and they told us what to expect. They let us sit in the seats [like the ones we’ll be sitting in]. This was for all the newly elected people, both Republicans and Democrats,” Sorensen said. “This was put on by some of the leadership of both caucuses — Republicans and Democrats. Both caucuses have met multiple times just so we can kind of talk about what we want to do and what to get ready for.”
All along, Sorensen shared with constituents of House District 20 his desire to have a balanced state budget. He was named vice chair of the Appropriations Committee in late November, under chair Pat Grassley, the grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley.
“That’s one of the committees I wanted to be on. The budget’s very complex. It sounds simple, that you need a balanced budget and can’t spend more than you take in, but there are so many things. Every bill comes through Appropriations. If there’s no money for it, there’s no way to push it through,” Sorensen said. “The Appropriations Committee is going to be an interesting deal. It’s easy to appropriate and it’s really, really hard to de-appropriate. Those are the choices we’re elected to make.”
Sorensen says that the first few days of the session will be filled with introductory and inaugural aspects of “pomp and circumstance.” Once that is over, decisions will begin to be mulled over. Of all the areas of the budget, Sorensen knows education is an area many people are paying close attention to going into this session.
“A lot of people think we need to increase funding for education, and I think that’s a goal. At this point in the year, before the session starts, you don’t want to promise the moon then not deliver. I can’t make any promises but I know education funding is a priority,” Sorensen said. “When it comes down to it, there’s only one pie and you can’t divy out pieces of pie that aren’t there. We’re just going to study the budget, be careful with the choices we’re making, and I know we really hope to increase funding in education.”
Sorensen said that while he’s been in the House of Representatives Chamber before in the clerk’s seat, to sit in a seat like the one he’ll be assigned at the beginning of the season was humbling when he had the opportunity recently to do so.
“That’s a great feeling. You feel the immense responsibility. I’m very happy and feel very humbled that House District 20 put this responsibility on my shoulders,” Sorensen said. “I hope to carry them and make them all proud.”