People of Influence
Who has clout? There’s a new generation of movers and shakers emerging who are shaping policies and making things happen. Here are 14 to watch.
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Senator Nancy Cook counts seven significant economic downturns in her 35 years as a legislator. “Each one has its very unique issues,” she says. Yet the current mess may be the toughest yet.
Cook has co-chaired the Joint Finance Committee, which is responsible for balancing the state’s budget, since 1982.
With the state facing an $800 million shortfall at the beginning of the year, Cook and her colleagues on the committee faced some tough decisions. Chief among them was approving a 2.5 percent pay cut for state employees, the first such action in her career. “Everyone had a heavy heart, for sure,” she says.
Cook, of Kenton, began in the legislature in 1974, after her husband, Senator Allen J. Cook, passed away. She won a special election one month later. By 1976 she was named Senate majority whip and chair of the Capitol Bond Committee. But she’s made her name in the Finance Committee, to which she was appointed in 1976.
Cook and her committee have more tough roads ahead. Fiscal 2011 will be another trying one, one that may lead to even more unpopular decisions.
“Very honestly, state employees are not happy,” Cook says. “The scene in my mind is we don’t want layoffs. To preserve someone’s job is important to me.”