Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hard times require equal sacrifice

Our state political leadership is struggling with the budget shortfalls, and issuing 1) dire warnings, 2) calls for boldness and innovation, and 3) political chestnuts such as, "you don't raise taxes in a recession."

This is a difficult time, and it will be a struggle to get through it, but I'm wary of their intent. Gov Otter has made it no secret that he would like to reduce government. Indeed, he would be proud to do so. Well, just as the Obama administration said that there is opportunity in crisis, Otter may see his opportunity to shrink government in these hard times.

What better excuse to cut programs than a budget shortfall? I think that the Governor intends to use this opportunity to reduce state government. He was talking about doing away with entire agencies. Well, okay, government is not an unalloyed good. Getting rid of unnecessary or wasteful portions of it is probably a good idea.

The real issue is, will reductions be targeted to unnecessary or wasteful portions of government, or be aimed at accomplishing political goals? So far I haven't seen a lot of ideology, but I haven't heard yet what he's cutting. I guess we'll see.

If you add statement #3 above to this mix, it starts to smell of ideology. Don't raise taxes in a recession, okay, well, when do you raise them? The same people saying that are the ones who always say, don't raise taxes. And I agree with keeping taxes low. What I don't agree with is tax favoritism. Remember when the special committee talked about repealing the numerous sales tax exemptions for the many special interests? The idea fell flat; total non-starter.

I'd feel better about cutting government programs and agencies if all the taxpayers were pulling their fair share. God bless farmers, 'cause I like to eat, but it's pretty rich to see all the howling about closing the Parma research station from sales tax exempt folks like farmers. I've got two kids in Idaho universities right now; tuition and fees are going to go up, the Challenge grant Promise Scholarship is going down, I'll be paying more. Okay. But let's have everyone pitch in.


Anonymous said...

Governor's prioritization:
Lt Gov's office- highest
Veterans Affairs - lowest

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