If I told you at the start of the legislative session that there was a large hole in the budget and that there were 2 or maybe 3 possibilities to fix it, you’d probably think the moderate thing to do would be pick some of each of the ways available. Moderates might, to use less vague terms, want some tax increases and some spending cuts while they looked at ways to deficit spend through the downturn. Moderate the pain of tax increases with spending cuts and moderate the pain of spending cuts with tax increases. Yet somehow in our state, the people who want all cuts get to claim moderate status. Take the Trib editorial board, for example:
The spending plan, unveiled jointly by Democrat and Republican budget writers, was a feat of compromise. Working across the aisle, lawmakers were able to stave off the cruelest of options for filling the state’s $5 billion shortfall.
“Reduce, but not eliminate” was their guiding mantra. Legislators saved the Basic Health Plan, but continued the freeze on enrollment. They preserved access to state health insurance for immigrant children, but tightened eligibility.
Pain but not death. When so much pain could have been avoided, that’s still moderation. Sure not letting people into Basic Health will be disaster, but otherwise, we’d have to consider cutting tax breaks for out of state banks. You guys, we can’t do that and be moderate, can we?
It carves 22 percent out of the higher education budget, but gives universities the authority to set their own tuition. It cuts funds for teacher pay, but only commensurate with the hit state workers are taking and without freezing longevity pay.
It makes it tougher to educate the next generation. It decides that the best way to attract new teachers is to cut their pay. In a time when American manufacturing is on the decline and a college education is more important than ever, it makes one harder to obtain. But at least there’s still a tax break for bull semen.
The budget is equal-opportunity agony, with the priority where it should be – basic human necessities – and the responsibility for its tough choices shared by both parties.
Except for the tough choice to close multiple loopholes. That was only one side. And even though it would have eased the pain, it would be partisan. Therefore not moderate. Therefore bad.
Anyway, then they go on to say that making the workers’ comp system more corporate friendly is also a victory for moderates. Because blindly giving more power to employers is moderate. I don’t think every moderate decision is necessarily the right one (I don’t think I’m going to convince anyone that a 70% high earner’s income tax is moderate, for example). But I wish the ed boards across the state at least had the courage to call the extremism they’re pushing what it is.