Reports of cuts don’t add up

Regarding Debra Smith’s Monday article on taxes (“Where do taxes go? What you’re getting and what it covers”) she writes that “State leaders have cut and cut and cut the budget.”

Well, not exactly. The 2010 House proposed total operating, capital and transportation budgets combined would increase state spending by $2.7 billion, while near general fund spending would be reduced by approximately $300 million. If the supplemental budgets pass as planned by the House, total state spending would be up $4 billion for the 2009-11 budget compared to the 2007-09 budget, while near general fund spending would be reduced by $1.3 billion during the same time period.

In other words, total state spending, despite all of the talk about a $9 billion shortfall last year, is up $1.3 billion since the last budget cycle, and will soon rise substantially more.

This isn’t a recent trend. Over the last decade or so, total state spending has rapidly outpaced inflation and population growth. Between the 1997-99 and 2009-11 biennia, inflation and population grew by a combined 45 percent, whereas total state spending grew by more than 75 percent during the same period. Proposed new spending this year would take the growth to nearly 85 percent.

What lawmakers are calling budget cuts is the equivalent of a family with multiple checking accounts arguing that they need only balance the primary checking account, while not worrying about all the other accounts.

Brett Davis

Evergreen Freedom Foundation


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