Monday, June 15, 2009

Vukmir statement on the state budget

State Representative Leah Vukmir reacted to the Assembly's passage of the state budget in her e-mail newsletter. Here is an excerpt:

The Spin vs. Reality
Some of the early budget spin coming out of the capitol in defense of the budget includes claims that this budget has real spending cuts. That's simply not true. The budget increases overall spending by 6.3%, which is $3.7 billion more than the previous budget. Reducing the amount of a spending increase is not the same as a spending cut!

They are also claiming they are cutting the state payroll by over 1,300 government positions. The fact is that these are vacant positions and they have agreed to leave them unfilled during the two-year budget cycle.

The Democrats are also critical of Republicans for not offering an alternative. We did offer suggestions and our members on the Joint Finance Committee were outspoken in their criticism of a budget they knew would take our state in the wrong direction.

Further, we pushed for building our state budget on a process called "zero-based budgeting." The process requires every agency to justify each expense, including employees, and how it relates to their statutory mission or to the effective delivery of a particular service. Instead, they chose to go with the existing "cost-to-continue" budgeting, which simply builds the new budget from the existing base.

In addition to all of the new taxes and fees, this budget also backfills spending for ongoing programs like education and Medicaid with one-time federal stimulus money. This decision will create an even bigger shortfall in the next budget.

In the end, this budget is well beyond repair. The State Senate should go back to the drawing board and start from scratch! That is the only responsible thing to do.