Yesterday’s editorial in the Joplin Globe included this bad news for Missourians:
The state faces a $500 million to $700 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2012 that must be resolved by the Legislature and Gov. Jay Nixon. There is little hope for substantial federal funding to offset that shortfall.
The only news worse than that is what the Globe editorial said in response to that bad news:
We urge our governor and legislators in the upcoming legislative session to continue to make the painful choices necessary to keep Missouri state government living well within its means.
Let’s keep it that way with responsible state and local government and the acknowledgment from our residents that government is not a cure for all that ails society today.
Where does one start with such, well, with such reactionary Republican ridiculousness?
Okay, I’ll start with being the first resident to acknowledge that government is not a cure for all that ails society today. There. That’s done.
Now, to the “painful choices necessary to keep Missouri state government living well within its means” nonsense.
It has become obvious that conservative governance in this state, as well as in the country at large, has undertaken a “starve the beast”—the government is always the beast—strategy. Nationally, we are paying less in federal taxes as a percentage of GDP than at any time since 1950, which is illustrated nicely by this graph:
Notice the increase in revenues resulting from the famous 1993 tax increase (which created budget surpluses) and the decline in revenues resulting from the Bush tax cuts (which created massive deficits). And notice that the conservative strategy of starving the beast is working to the extent that nearly everyone is now talking about entitlement cuts and other government-reducing exercises.
As for the states, according to the conservative Tax Foundation, there are only 15 states with a lower combined tax burden than Missouri. But more disturbing is, in the words of The Missouri Budget Project, “the erosion of Missouri’s revenue base since 1985”:
Missouri General Revenue spending as a portion of the economy is below the 1985 level. The Hancock Amendment to Missouri’s Constitution restricts state general revenue growth to the ratio of general revenue to personal income that existed in the 1980s. The ratio of the two measures provides a picture of how far Missouri state general revenue has declined when compared to the state’s economy. State general revenue in FY 2010 was just 3.124 percent of state personal income, well below what it was in 1985 and nearly $2 billion below the Hancock “lid.”
Here’s the chart:
State general revenue in FY 2010 was just 3.124 percent of state personal income, well below what it was in 1985 and nearly $2 billion below the Hancock “lid.”
Was Missouri an unfit place to live in 1985? Were businesses and people fleeing the state? Were things so bad that we can’t see our way to go back to the revenue percentages of that time?
Of course not.
That $2 billion would solve the “crisis” we face now, without the Joplin Globe fretting over “painful choices,” which really means painful budget cuts that naturally hurt the most vulnerable among us.
How about an editorial on that?