Because That’s Where the Money Is…

By C.B Forgotston

20130127-162352.jpgWhen asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton supposedly said: “Because that’s where the money is.”

The same can be said of why education and healthcare are always receive the brunt of the cuts when there is a mid-year revenue shortfall in the state budget.

In the 2012 State Budget (ended June 30, 2012) approximately 62% of all state funds were spent on education (higher and k-12) and healthcare.

Therefore, if the state continues to spend more than the revenues available, education and healthcare must be cut because when making across-the-board cuts (mid-year) those two expenditure items are where the money is.

Solution

The solution to mid-year budget cuts to education and healthcare lies in setting realistic priorities based on realistic revenues for the State Operating Budget during the lege session.

— Regardless of what the governor proposes in his budget, the leges should not spend revenues that are based on contingencies or that aren’t recurring.

Determining what “non-recurring” revenues are is not simply a matter of law, but common sense.

— Don’t ignore expenses that the leges know are going to come due, i.e., pension liabilities. In other words, stop “kicking the can down the road.”

What’s needed

To prevent mid-year budget cuts to Higher Education and Healthcare a combination of common sense and political courage by the leges is needed.

Without those two ingredients all the proposed laws and constitutional amendments (or constitutional conventions) combined will not prevent the axe from falling on Higher Education and Healthcare.

C.B.