As you may recall from last month’s update, the House Ways and Means budget proposal
increased spending by $1.18 billion, or 4.4 % over last year. By the time “debate” on this
proposal was over, the House added another $210 million to the bottom line and increased
the stabilization fund transfer to $412 million.
This rate of spending outpaces the rate of ordinary inflation and places extra pressure on
the state to raise revenues during a time when many economists have issued warnings of a
possible recession. How can the House justify its spending plan in light of our current
And that’s why I, along with many of my Republican colleagues, voted against every budget
amendment and the budget as a whole. Not because there are no worthwhile programs or
additions, but out of serious concern with the growth in spending. Not because I simply
enjoy my role as the opposition, but because it was the best way to deliver an important
message: way too much!
It’s like a trip to the grocery store. We’ve gone up and down the aisles and picked things
we like, need, and want and now we are at the checkout counter and we can’t afford what
is in our cart. So, instead of making some tough decisions, we just put the difference on
our credit card. And, in this case the credit card is paid by the taxpayer.
The House and Senate are in the process of finalizing measures to increase the tax on
cigarettes and large corporations. I hope these measures do not pass, but even if they do
the anticipated revenues will not raise enough money to pay for the spending plan adopted
by the House.
The situation begs the question: Will the Legislature just keep raising taxes?
Perhaps it will. But for all of our sakes I hope not!
More likely, however, is that the Governor will be forced to institute 9C cuts (emergency
reductions in spending) midyear. And when 9C cuts happen everyone loses.
Last week the Senate finished debating and amending its version of the budget. The two
branches will soon meet and reconcile the differences in their plans, eventually coming up
with a final version to give to the Governor for review.