Peggy Fikac got it right in her Sunday piece when she described a state government that knows it has pre-spent every extra dollar it receives for the 83rd legislature. These extra dollars will help reduce, but not eliminate, the amount of egg that will eventually be on the face of the 82nd Legislature.
This is because the 82nd Legislature severely underfunded the biennium and used several other budget gimmicks to appear more responsible than they actually were. The question is not if the 83rd Legislature will have to cover part of the 82nd Legislature’s unpaid bill. The question is, how much of the 82nd Legislature’s bill will the 83rd have to cover?
Big spenders would love for everyone to act as if every dollar exceeding expectations is new money to spend, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Big spenders would also love for everyone to pretend that slowing the growth of the education budget was merely an emergency measure, but this is wrong too.
School districts have overemployed non-teachers for decades and need to reverse the trend. To be serious about responsible budgeting, last year’s adjustments must be the starting point for permanent course corrections.
Pro-gambling Republicans are also likely to be comfortable exposing the depths of our budget problems during the 83rd Legislature. Speaker Straus has already committed to eliminating budget gimmicks.
However, pro-gambling Republicans are not likely to lift a finger investigating common sense ways to cut government waste and fraud, continuing to pretend there is none.
They would instead like to offer, at the last minute, a choice between expanded gambling and new taxes. They know they are closer to their prize if they can control the framing of this issue.
Unfortunately for them, the best research shows that gambling money is a drag on revenues, not a help. “New gambling revenues” are offset 3-1 by the creation of new law enforcement and social service costs, together with lower tax revenues due to depressed productivity.
The new dollars are all pre-spent, and expanding gambling would exacerbate our budget problems, not improve them.
– Fikac’s Sunday article
– Professor Earl Grinols “Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits“