Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Facts, please

Republicans in the Idaho legislature are poised, nay, chomping at the bit, to cut the budget. They are prepared to eliminate 770 teacher jobs. According to testimony yesterday, their proposed cuts to the Medicaid budget will cut another 700* jobs and shutter several businesses. Reason? Of course, it's due to the steep reduction in state tax revenue resulting from the economic downturn.

Well, if revenues are down, raise some new revenue, right? Of course not. See, it's accepted common wisdom that "you can't raise taxes in a recession" because it will impede recovering from the recission. Just makes sense.

Really? That's the basis for losing 1,470 jobs? Won't the loss of that many jobs and the spin off economic activity impede recovering from the recession? Certainly there will be a negative impact from those job losses. But what is it, exactly?

Will the effect of the losses affect the economy more, or less, than raising taxes? If we raise taxes 1%, or 2%, or 5%, at what point does that drain on the economy outweigh the hit taken by losing 1,470 jobs?

The state has economists working for it. I wonder ... Have any legislators asked these questions? If not, they're not serious about helping get through this bidget crisis.

Actually, I think that what they are serious about is not "wasting a crisis." This is their big chance to whack the IEA and to shrink government, citizens and their needs be damned.

*I thought I had read this number somewhere yesterday, but now can't find it to link to it. So I can't say that 700 more jobs will be lost, necessarily, but clearly cutting $120 million will result in some job losses.

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