By now most people have probably heard the big news from Gov. James Douglas' proposal: 600 state jobs need to be cut as part of his plan to bridge a $200 million gap in the 2010 spending plan.
He also worked into his budget a move of the teacher retirement fund out of the general fund and over to the education fund – for a savings of $40 million. But that clearly won't fly with the Democrats in the legislature.
But what struck me during his speech were both the contrasts and similarities between Douglas' words and President Barack Obama's inaugural speech. Obama's speech was certainly more uplifting than Douglas' speech – it helps that the new president didn't have to propose slashing programs and workers.
Still, there is a sense that Obama has not only changed politics in the United States, but also how speeches are written. For example, I don't think a pre-Obama Douglas would have started off his budget speech by quoting Abraham Lincoln. Watch for the 16th President to continue popping up in political speeches around the country.
There were a handful of lines toward the end of Douglas' speech that seems right out of the Obama play book. Here's the main example I saw:
Together, in these dark hours, we will conquer collective anxiety with shared resolve – beat back cold fear with a hope as deep as the green of a Vermont spring – and push past partisanship to serve the people in a way that honors their struggle.
Those are Douglas' words. Compare that with Obama's speech on Tuesday:
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
Hope: It's contagious.