Friday, July 31, 2009

Fiscal Stability Commission I

We’ve had two sessions of meetings of the Fiscal Stability Commission. The commission was tasked by resolution with finding a long-term fix to the budgetary problems that the state has had this recession and in previous recessions.

I figured after reading the resolution that it was really tasked, read between the lines, with finding an excuse to get rid of TABOR.

It’s hilarious that elected officials have actually said that TABOR caused the financial problem that we have right now! I thought it was caused by a drop in tax revenue which was, in turn, caused by a normal business cycle recession that was exacerbated by a federal government that was run amok guaranteeing loans that couldn’t possibly be repaid. But, what do I know?

The bulk of the testimony during our four days of hearings so far has been from state staff telling us how bad the current situation is and government dependents telling us they have to have more money and we should just raise taxes so that they can get more money.

So far, just about what I expected.

We did have an informative presentation where Charlie Brown, yep, that’s his name, said that our expenditures for education, health care and prisons from the general fund have been growing faster over the last ten years than our incoming revenue has been growing. In other words, our spending is on a collision course with our revenue and we need to do something about it. He also said that he didn’t think the 45% tax increase that it would take to put revenue ahead of expenditures was plausible.

We do have a problem that needs fixed; those on the left want to raise taxes to get more revenue; those of us on the right want to control spending.

This difference is the heart of what separates liberals from conservatives. There is no disagreement about the nature of the problem. We can’t continue on with business as usual for too much longer. How long depends on the economy, but eventually, spending will catch up with available revenue and then the state will be in real trouble. The kind of trouble that California is in right now.

We can avoid that; we should avoid that. The question is: will we do so responsibly by controlling spending or by raising taxes.

I’m in the control spending camp. I firmly believe that raising taxes only delays the problem and, at this time, increases the pain caused by the recession.

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