Holding Our Breath on the Budget
Perhaps the feeling isn’t as common as I implied last night on the Matt Allen Show (segment streamable by clicking here, or download), but I can’t shake a feeling of creepy serenity around the budget battle. Thus far, the legislature hasn’t changed anything dramatic from the governor’s proposal that would fire us up on the right, yet there hasn’t been the primal scream of pain that an adequate budget would elicit from the other side.
It’s as if everybody sees the budget as Good Enough for their provisional purposes. For taxpayers, it’s good enough to refrain from spitting in a turning tide. On the left, labor, and special interest side, it’s good enough to hold the grip until the next battle. What’s disconcerting for the former group is the degree to which everybody plainly know that the “balanced budget” is a construction of numbers games. Even House Finance Committee Chairman Steven Costantino is already preparing the electorate for a future budget that will take care of some of the “slippage” from this one.
Look also to NEARI Executive Director Bob Walsh and his proposal to start giving the state pension system partial ownership of the lottery. His suggestion comes suspiciously late in the game to have an effect on this budget, and in the comments to my recent post on the topic, he made it clear that he’s happy to wait until the November reevaluation — after elections are done and the political hangover is in full throb.
I wonder how much such schemes are built right into the entire budget. How many numbers aren’t going to match expectations but will require the really controversial steps to be taken down the road — probably against taxpayers’ interests.