Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Budget Bull from the GOP

A couple weeks ago, the Senate and House budget committee chairmen wrote to the GOP leadership in the General Assembly asking for their recommendations on how to cut the general fund by $2.5 billion. After all, Republican legislators had voted for such a cut in the Spending Affordability Committee and their leaders were complaining about short-term budget fixes in the Gazette. The House Republican leadership has replied, and has said...

Absolutely nothing.

We reprint the reply letter from House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell (R-29C) and House Minority Whip Chris Shank (R-2B) to Speaker Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller below. In the letter, the two GOP leaders totally dodge all reference to specific cuts and say that they will present a proposal only if the Democrats do. Clearly, they would like to talk about cuts in general in the newspapers, but that did not mean that they wanted to talk about actual, real-live CUTS.

And so Busch and Miller repeated their invitation to the GOP to present their proposals for actual, real-live CUTS before the General Assembly budget committees on February 23rd. Let’s see if they show up.

Now we believe in helping the less fortunate, and in that spirit, we extend a helping hand to the hapless House minority. The Governor’s budget proposal is a good place to begin looking for the actual, real-live CUTS that perhaps a couple Republican legislators (and certainly a big part of their conservative base) may be interested in. Note that the FY 2011 general fund proposal is already $265 million less than FY 2010, so the Governor has given the GOP a head start.

$2.5 billion would equal:

More than half of all state aid to public schools and libraries
More than the state spends on foster care, medical assistance and property tax credits
More than double the public safety budget
More than double the amount the state spends on its university system
More than spending on the state police and the universities combined

So the question posed by the Democrats – and also the conservative Tea Party base – is really quite simple. Where would you cut?

We cannot let this post pass without mentioning Delegate Chris Shank (R-2B), co-author of the Republicans’ non-reply reply. Shank is challenging Senator Donald Munson (R-2) in the GOP primary from the right. Shank said in his announcement:

Over the next year, I intend to lay out my views about moving this state forward with conservative policies of pro-economic growth, limited spending, and government reform. On these issues and many more, there will be a real choice between us, a real contrast for the voters to decide. Senator Munson will need to answer for his decisions to abandon our conservative values and instead choose political expediency time and again.
And so the Speaker and the Senate President gave Delegate Shank a golden opportunity to prove that he is a real conservative by laying out actual, real-live CUTS totaling $2.5 billion. And what should he do but cut and run instead!