Over the weekend, some people were busy trumpeting Gov. Dayton’s proposal as a victory for Republicans. But was it a victory for them–and more importantly, for taxpayers?
I mentioned on Friday that it was likely that the state simply kicked the can down the road–and made the task of fixing our problems even more difficult. Yes, the Republicans can say “We stopped a tax increase.” Yet more borrowing and use of one-time money–if they are the only things that bring about a new budget–only makes the challenging of balancing a budget next time out even more difficult.
For that matter, so would increasing tax rates, whether that’s done on millionaires, “the rich” (an ever-changing category) or everyone. Without politically-imposed reforms that (a) make government act smarter or (b) make government smaller, the demands for increased spending will, over time, outstrip increased revenue.
Peter Nelson of the Center of the American Experiment offers up a list of “non-controversial redesign policies.” They’re good, though Nelson admits that he’s being generous in what he includes as “non-controversial.” But the list is a good place to start.
As I write this, I don’t know what policy reforms included in the budget bills already passed (and vetoed) will meet the governor’s test. In general, though, the more of the reforms that are included in the budget, the better off the state will be. But if the Legislature and governor simply agree to spending numbers–and spend that money in exactly or largely the same ways that it’s been spent to date–then we’re all back to revisiting some reforms, and major political fights, later on.