We all know the cliches: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Or, “This is where the rubber meets the road.”

Here’s one in the same line of thought to add to the list: “When it’s time to pass a budget, pass a budget.”

Both parties in Congress seem to be having considerable trouble with that last one, but lawmakers in Augusta are buckling down with a deadline and seem determined to meet it.

That is, after all, what they were elected to do, so they should. But what they shouldn’t be worrying about is what an organized group of state employees is chanting outside the State House while they do it.

Many Maine workers have forsaken raises or even taken pay cuts to keep their jobs during the current economic difficulties. Many have also been required to pay more for health coverage and other benefits as a condition of keeping their jobs — if they have been able to keep their jobs at all.

Yet, state workers appear to believe that they are exempt from such changes in their working conditions, and in recent days have been protesting proposals to put a hold on cost-of-living increases for retirees and then cap them at 2 percent, saving taxpayers $214 million.

The workers are upset that Republicans are also proposing tax cuts that would save about two-thirds of Maine taxpayers about $200 million, while reforming the tax code and reducing the top tax rate below 8 percent.

Such changes send a message nationwide that Maine is becoming a more welcoming state to people who want to expand or create a business here, and to those who will be working for those businesses.

That’s why lawmakers should focus their attention on making the budget for the next biennium meet the state’s current income, without becoming overly concerned about asking state employees to share some (and by no means all) of the same burdens that workers in the private sector have had to endure in recent years.

There’s nothing in the Maine Constitution or state law that says that state workers should be immune from economic trends. If they benefited from good times — and they did — they can’t expect not to have to sacrifice when times are not so good.

That’s where the rubber meets the road.