Rightly or wrongly, Democratic elected officials are often maligned by their opponents as tax and spend, well, Democrats. And with the latest state revenue forecast now confirming a $2.6 billion shortfall for 2009 alone, it’s time for state Dems to finally live up to that reputation.
70% of the state budget is protected through constitutional, federal, contractual and other mandates, which means the Legislature would need to slash 27% from the remaining $9.6 billion in unprotected spending in order to achieve an all-cuts budget. I suppose that could be done, but only at the expense of great human suffering.
No, it’s time for the Legislature to stand up to the editorialists and do the responsible thing: raise taxes to help make up part of this shortfall. That’s the sort of balanced approach most states take during severe revenue turndowns, as at least 30 other states have already done. And studies of the 2001 recession have found no evidence that the economies of states that raised taxes recovered any slower or faster than states that did not.
Yeah, I know, raising taxes is never a popular thing to do, and some Democrats in swing districts might even lose their seats over such support. But nobody ever said that responsible governance is supposed to be easy, or even personally rewarding. So deal with it.