Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bill Crawford: Republicans Struggle to Find Smart Way to Budget

"Starving the beast” is a popular conservative approach to governance.

“If they (legislators) don’t have the money, they can’t spend it,” one Republican operative explained, strongly endorsing this approach.
 
True enough, but as another longtime Mississippi leader told me, “‘Starve the beast’ is not a smart way to govern, in fact, it isn’t governing at all.”
Also true.
 
Supposedly, Republicans in charge of state government are seriously pursuing a smart way to govern. No, not the "working groups" announced by legislative leaders last week. 
 
The long awaited performance-based budgeting and management system, first announced by the Legislature in 1994, would identify wasteful and ineffective programs whose funding could be re-allocated to programs that evidence says work. In other words, it would allow legislators to make smart, evidence-based budget decisions.
 
But, not yet. 

Three and a half years ago, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn created a partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to develop an analytical system to support performance-based budgeting. The Legislature’s PEER Committee was assigned tasks to develop a state strategic plan, a comprehensive inventory of programs and costs, and performance measures and targets. The PEER Committee was to gather data to assess program performance. The Pew-MacArthur model was to calculate cost-benefit ratios for assessed programs.
 
Last year, the PEER Committee produced a comprehensive guide to ’splain performance-based budgeting to legislators. It included interesting results from a pilot application of the new model.
 
Unfortunately, it also showed this smarter budgeting approach remains many years away from fruition.  That leaves us with "starve the beast.” 

The problem with this approach is that it starves important and essential programs.
 
Thus, deferred repairs to roads and bridges will continue to reach crisis status while hundreds of millions of dollars go for non-urgent building projects and tax cuts. The Department of Health will eliminate clinics and maternity services and the Department of Mental Health psychiatric beds and addiction units while less important and non-essential programs continue to operate. And so on.
 
As one of my more conservative friends commented, “Roads and bridges are wonderfully simple examples, but there are so many other areas that need to be functional.” 


Quite frankly, the first thing that needs to become functional is the legislature’s basic budget process. Turned murky and complicated by the horribly misnamed “Budget Transparency and Simplification Act,” the budget process this past session featured pretend appropriations bills that were rammed through by leadership to get the bills past deadlines and into six-man conference committees. Leadership then allowed these committees to meet in secret, contrary to the rules. To cap it off, the committee-approved bills with real numbers were not given to members until the last minute, providing them with little opportunity for review or rebuttal.
 
Not a smart way to govern. Nor is starving the beast. 

It’s possible the Legislature’s new working groups could turn things around. But, in Mississippi, politics trumps smart nearly every time.
 
 
Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (crawfolk@gmail.com)

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ms. does not have a budget problem. How could it possibly have a problem? We have so much excess money the governor is willing to spend thousands of $ defending BS laws he has pushed through that has no chance of becoming law.

Anonymous said...

Maybe"The Beast" needs to pull it's own weight for once in "it's" life!! I'm done reading "The Beast"!!

Anonymous said...

If they "starve the beast" they can't as easily enrich themselves and their friends and donors.

Anonymous said...

Amazing that the State (Exexutive Branch) cannot force agency heads under its control to streamline overhead. Why does every State agency need public information staffs, asst. directors, deputy directors, Chiefs of staff, personnel staffs, IT staffs, purchasing staffs and the many many dollars spent on travel to far flung distinctions. Simple answer is that's how it's always been done. The State Personnel Board does a poor job of conducting work/time measurement evaluations when assessing the need for agency positions. It's all political.

Pappy O'Daniel said...

if we could just get away from the model that always has cash for some boon-doggie half ass scheme but no money for the basic functions of government...but we will have one kick-ass aquarium.

Anonymous said...

If you think the Personnel Board has any say in how positions are handed out, you are sorely mistaken.

Pappy O'Daniel said...

Anonymous has a great point...what DOES the Personnel Board do? Seems like they are always willing to tell you what they won't do but it's not very clear about what they will do

Anonymous said...

It is beginning to sound like no one has any say in how positions are filled. If you are a politician you need more people on the parole to get you re elected. That and all your kin and friends needs a job that pays well and does not involve working.

Anonymous said...

The Mississippi State Personnel Board is an antiquated model for modern government. It does not need to exist, or should be drastically reduced is size and scope. One problem MS Agencies have is the inability to rid themselves of bad employees after they have been on the job for a year. Employment with the state should be 'at will' just like the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Ms. State Personnel Board would be a very good place to start cutting out the waste. If they do not know what their job is or do not do their job, they are a prime example of waste.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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