10.01.2008 0

Florida GOP to Dems: Stop Whining!

  • On: 10/07/2008 10:46:40
  • In: Fiscal Responsibility

  • “We didn’t fall into the easy trap of raising taxes… We didn’t whine. We didn’t complain. We just made tough business decisions.” – Florida State House Budget Chairman Ray Sansom (R-Destin.).

    Amidst a national economic slowdown that has caused tax revenues to drop and projected deficits to explode, State governments across the country are making tough decisions. Budget priorities are being questioned, public sector employee unions are in an uproar, and Big Government spenders no longer get to don their Santa Claus suits and sling a sack full of taxpayer-funded giveaways over their now-emaciated shoulders.

    Nothing like a slowing economy to knock some sense back into legislatures, whose otherwise utopian views of limitless government spending often make citizens wonder if the laws of gravity apply to state house, as well as household, budgets.

    They do. And in Florida, those laws are in full effect. For this fiscal year, lawmakers were left with a $1.2 billion budget shortfall that they first had to correct before working on next year’s budget. For the 2008-2009 budget spending was slashed by over $4 billion, bringing the budget from about $70.75 billion to $66.2 billion. That’s about 5.6 percent in reductions.

    Ever the optimist (when it comes to other people’s money), at least one Democrat felt that higher taxes and looting rainy day funds were the key to balancing the budget:

    “‘We preferred to worsen the pain on Florida citizens as opposed to raising money,’ said Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller of Cooper City, who unsuccessfully pushed to expand gambling, close corporate tax loopholes and dip deeper into the state’s rainy day fund to soften the cuts to programs… ‘It’s not quite the unmitigated disaster it started out as….but we did make choices,’ he added. ‘They were bad choices.’”

    But, as Senator Geller learned, what goes up must come down. In times of economic downturn, choices do have to be made, about whether government will play a role in speeding economic recovery, or in digging a greater hole through yet another tax-and-spending binge. Increasing the tax burden prolongs such downturns by increasing the burden that government poses at precisely the time when businesses and the people are simultaneously feeling the pinch and need relief.

    It is clear that while the economy catches it breath, governments nationwide need to join Florida in making the tough decisions that can put the country back on a business-footing.

    ALG Perspective:
    Florida lawmakers deserve credit for making necessary spending reductions in order to balance the budget without increasing the tax burden in the State. This will enable Florida’s economy, one of the hardest hit by the credit crunch, to recover more speedily than it would have.


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