Small Cuts Credited, Huge Windfall Ignored
This article, by Neil Downing, is a bit hard to take:
Despite a recession, record floods and high unemployment, Rhode Island managed at least one achievement this year — a state government budget surplus.
Preliminary figures posted Wednesday show that the state recorded a $17.7-million surplus for the year ended June 30, even though it began that year with a $62.3-million deficit.
The article goes on to meander through elected officials and bureaucrats crowing about the hard work that they’ve done to trim the budget in difficult times. This part comes almost as an unrelated tidbit toward the end (emphasis added):
The state could use the surplus should there be a budget deficit for the year that ends June 30, 2011, he said.
But if there is a surplus for that year, too, the state could use the money to deal with what is scheduled to be a budget deficit of about $320 million for the year that ends June 30, 2012.
That is when the federal government is scheduled to pull the plug on the extra aid it has been doling out to states to help them get through the recession.
There’s something pitiful about state officials’ slapping themselves on the back for fiscal-management prowess based on a tentative $17 million surplus when a higher form of government is shoveling hundreds of millions in future-taxpayer money to them through the back door. It’s a bit like a glutton’s claiming success in his diet because he skipped the sorbet in a ten-course meal.