January 09, 2003
Read my lips: More and higher fees
Having boldly declared that he would have balanced last year's budget all by his lonesome if only he'd had the time, Governor Goodhair has now proclaimed that there will be no new taxes this year. Fees, on the other hand, are still fair game, assuming of course that people can agree on what is a fee and what is really a tax, since taxes are bad but fees aren't.
Back to the blame game for our current situation. Here's Goodhair defending his record:
Perry said he was not to blame because he vetoed $500 million in discretionary spending from the budget. But he admitted the state's budget will be tight.
Of course, he's only too happy to take credit for new spending
when it suits his purposes. Fine; that's politics. Just bear it in mind.
Which brings us to the issue of those big delayed Medicare payments that Comptroller Strayhorn blamed on the Lege yesterday. Turns out, as Charles Dodgson notes, that there was another hand in that particular bit of budget chicanery:
[I]n 1999 the governor of Texas — yes, him — justified new corporate tax breaks with a budget that not only understated Medicaid costs by $550 million but hid regular payments for nursing care and other services by moving them from the last month of fiscal 2001 to the first month of 2002.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 09, 2003 to Budget ballyhoo
Cut spending. I know this sucks. I know this is going to hurts many citizens. It's the payoff for the last several governors (including our current President) having decided to blow the boom in revenue from the peak of the business cycle instead of setting it aside for a rainy day.
Maybe folks will be a little more prudent during the next upswing in the business cycle. Jerks.
Yet another reason why Perry is most obviously NOT a very good Republican. Saying higher fees aren't the same as higher taxes is like saying inflammable isn't the same as flammable. All taxes are essentially fees.
I grew up in Oklahoma where in 1992 the good citizens were hood-winked into passing a referendum called S.Q. 640, which changed the state constitution, requiring either a 75% approval by the state legislature or a vote of the people. Of course, little besides a resolution in honor of veterans' day usually gets a 75% majority in most state houses, and the voters are usually not interested in approving tax increases. Consequently, all manner of licenses and user fees have gone through the roof over the last ten years. Oh, and they've also had to make cuts in services like closing all but one of the state's mental health hospitals.
At the end of the day, there is no free lunch. The United States remains one of the lowest taxed countries among industrialized nations. Government is certainly not always the most efficient service provider, but then would you want to outsource mental health, education, and insurance oversight to the likes of Enron, World Com or Global Crossing?