Fiscal Irresponsibility Returns to Concord
On Wed., April 3, the Legislature voted on the 2013-15 Budget. While I applaud the House Finance Committee for not using the Casino dollars to balance the budget, they still found a way to bring fiscal irresponsibility back to Concord. For all the complaints that I heard about the 2011-2012 legislature, we did produce a Spot on Budget! We lived within our means!
Sadly this budget does not. They increased this budget by 10.2%; it grows government by five-percent per year when the economy is only growing at two-percent per year at best. It is built on $31 million of dollars in inflated revenues and $263 million in increased taxes, which suspends the business tax reforms that would have eased tax burdens on the business community.
It affects education by putting a moratorium on School building aid and Charter Schools. The Legislature passed HB 299 to fund Charter Schools, however when it went to the Finance Committee, Representative Eaton chose to hold that legislation hostage as capital to use against the Senate. Unfortunately he was caught on video stating that is in fact what he is doing!! It also ends the School Choice Tax Credit program for low income families, even though the program just started in January with more than 400 families requesting scholarships and most of them requested scholarships to better performing Public Schools.
The two most egregious problems with this budget is it gives unprecedented power to the Governor by allowing the Governor to raid all 300 dedicated funds to balance the budget if needed, funds such as: unemployment compensation, Fish and Game Rescue operations, Funds for the repair of road and bridges, dam maintenance funds, and many more. There were two amendments brought forward by Republicans to prevent the Governor’s ability to raid these funds. I voted for both, however they failed 181-186, the other 185-186. Apparently there were some Democrats who did not want to give this power to the Governor either. These amendments had roll calls and are accessible on the State website.