Friday, November 14, 2008

Beebe Using Human Shields, Poison Pills

Some of Governor Mike Beebe's Human Shields

When you have a compliant state print media a politician sure can get away with things. Take Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe for example. Beebe is proposing a 1% cut in the state's grocery tax. That part is good. It is what he pledged to work for when he was elected. He suggests that we pay for it by using surplus money to make up any budget shortfalls. That part is OK also. Some might complain that we should not pay for ongoing expenses with a one-time budget surplus, but Beebe is simply using the surplus as a cushion to adjust. His budget projections have been conservative, and there is a decent chance that none of the surplus money will need to be used to plug funding gaps. At least he is looking at a way to get it back to the over-taxed citizens of the state.

So what's my problem with the plan? It's the items he plans to cut out of the budget to pay for that tax cut. He plans to cut medicaid and prisons, and fund them from the one-time surplus if his revenue forecasts are correct. That means they would be unfunded in two years.

Why is he picking those programs to leave unfunded? Because he knows if it comes down to it he can get a tax increase further down the road to pay for those popular programs. He is using poor children in need of medical care as a "human shield" to protect less popular government programs. If he had left his "quick closing action fund" unfunded (money that he uses at his personal discretion) then he might have a hard time getting a tax increase to re-fund it. No legislator wants to cut off medical care for poor children, and none wants to seem "soft on crime".

Beebe's tax cut proposal has a "poison pill" in it. If revenues stay as projected, medicaid and prisons will face budget cuts unless new tax revenues can be found. He knows he can get money for those things. If he put his quick closing fund on the table for cuts, if he put a bloated higher ed system (which may be about to get a huge infusion of cash from a state lottery) on the table, if he put government fat on the table, people would take the deal and he would never get his tax cut back. Right now, he is setting it up so that he can take back the tax cut and make it seem like it was our idea.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Moore,

Ahem. Cough. It shouldn't be necessary for me to point out that there are no budget cuts. There are only budget growth rates that are lower than orignally planned.

I have been praying for the day that I see an actual cut in anything... anything!... for 25 years. Never happens.

Part of your point is well taken though. You are correct that he is using those budget items to shield less popular ones.

6:17 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I sit corrected.

4:26 PM, November 14, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't think you'd stoop to something like photoshopping Obama's head onto that kid's body.

6:36 AM, November 17, 2008  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

You have no idea how low I can stoop- especially right after a chiropractic adjustment.

6:59 PM, November 17, 2008  

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