Getting to Budget Cuts
I’m not sure how else executives could pursue budget cuts than asking the folks beneath them to provide suggestions, but it’s eminently predictable that they would respond to requests for budgets that show significantly lower spending in such a way as to make the cuts seem impossible. So, the Department of Public Safety insists that it would have to remove all public security personnel from the State House and courthouses. The Department of Administration would target facilities maintenance. The Department of Corrections would close two medium-to-high security prisons.
In a way, one can’t fault the bureaucrats. Legislators have continued to grow government, requiring departments to undertake more activities, and labor has so thoroughly baked in its pay and benefits that across-the-board cuts of pay and benefits would stand out starkly against a history of constant increases.
I find, in particular, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist’s comment telling:
Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist said the agency has cut operating expenses, but is requesting a larger budget next year to offset the loss of federal stimulus money.
Last year, the federal government committed future generations to increased taxes in order to prop up the public sector during the recession, particularly school employees. In Tiverton, the school department successfully led the charge in raising property taxes in order to “offset the loss of federal stimulus money” — which really means to maintain unjustified budget increases that local voters and taxpayers did not approve. Now, the state education agency would be content to raise sales, income, or some other state-level taxes in order to do the same.
This is the sort of scam that’s inevitable when the people allow their government to assume too broad a range of responsibilities. It’s well past time to return those responsibilities to the people at every level.