Looking for the Cuts
First above-the-fold headline in yesterday’s Providence Journal: “Cuts trump expanded sales tax in House plan.” The lead is: “Finance Committee’s $7.7-billion budget trims spending by $160 million, curtails sales-tax growth.” The only cut that the story provides as an example, however, is $1.6 million “in state spending from programs affecting low-income families, the disabled and the elderly.”
The rest of the story describes tax increases and budget increases (as to education) that are still planned. Where’s the other 99% of the supposed cut? Well, here’s a clue:
It also takes advantage of improving revenue projections and makes cuts to close next year’s projected budget gap. While details remained unclear Monday, the cuts include some $160 million in reductions relative to Chafee’s proposal, including $31 million in transportation, higher education, corrections and human services, said House Finance Chairman Helio M. Melo.
The “cuts” are mostly to the governor’s wild-spending proposal.
And even so, it appears that the largest part of the General Assembly’s adjustment to Governor Chafee’s budget came in not finding new expenditures to eat up improvements in revenue projections. Legislators cover another big chunk with $17 million from newly taxed sales items (e.g., over-the-counter drugs, digital downloads, insurance proceeds, and travel tours).
In other words, the Providence Journal is mainly passing along the spin of politicians who want to appear more responsible. Little wonder the general public is so ill informed.