Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bill Crawford: Rhetoric v. Reality

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn are touting their great success this year in holding down the cost of government.


"We Republicans have campaigned for many, many years that we are for living within our means, we are for controlling spending, we are for reducing the size of government," Gunn told reporters according to the Associated Press.

Reeves added, "That's what voters elected us to do. They elected us to live within our means," reported the AP. "They believe they ought to send less money to the government. They believe that they are already overtaxed and overburdened."

Sounds like a good plan that came together, huh? Well, only if you think they plotted a deep state conspiracy to disrupt government.



A peek behind the rhetoric suggests something else.

You see, legislators didn't really plan to spend less. Most cuts Reeves and Gunn are taking credit for result from mid-year budget cuts ordered by Gov. Phil Bryant. Legislators wanted to spend more money, but when the revenue didn't come in to cover the bills, Bryant had to take action. In so doing he forced the state to live within its means, not legislators. Legislators, then, had little choice but to roll these forced cuts into the budget for next fiscal year since revenues continue to lag.

This adds to the growing notion among business leaders that our legislative leaders ain't got a clue when it comes to state finances. Oh, they know how to cut taxes, but, apparently, not how to anticipate and manage the consequences. Over several years they pushed through a multitude of tax cuts with little idea what the impact would be. Still, they were confident resulting economic growth would generate revenues to offset the tax cuts. Oops, the growth didn’t happen, the offset didn't happen, and Bryant had to step in. Oh, even bigger "growth” spurring tax cuts start in January.

Indeed, reduced spending was never supposed to stem from revenue shortfalls. Instead, a new performance-based budgeting system was to identify programs whose funding could be curtailed or eliminated. Oops, the performance-based budgeting system isn't up to speed yet, so cuts for next year were generally across-the-board, impacting high performing and essential programs as well as poorly performing and non-essential programs.

Then, there are cuts that aren't real cuts. For example, legislators cut college scholarship funds. They also cut funding for universities and community colleges that will result in tuition and fee increases. Oops, with these changes legislators didn't so much control spending as shift the burden from the state's pocket to parents pockets.

Jones County Junior College President Jesse Smith told the Hattiesburg American his college will have to "increase our tuition significantly to make up the gap." Universities bumped their planned 3.8% average tuition hike to 6.6%.

Cuts to other programs will shift costs from state government to local government, forcing many to increase property taxes. Oops, these shifted costs won't be real cuts either.

Yep, a peek behind the rhetoric shows lots of oopses, not a coherent plan.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (crawfolk@gmail.com)

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yep, a peek behind the rhetoric shows lots of oopses, not a coherent plan.

Another (too) long drone from Crawford shows a columnist long on the condemning commentary and short on specific expertise and/or a coherent alternate plan of his own.

Anonymous said...

At least the first post on here was not from some ignorant buffoon claiming Republicans have long been in control of both houses. For that, and with apologies to the Sunday sermon tomorrow, we can give thanks.

Anonymous said...

Bill, when can we expect your next water carry for Kemper?

Cut to the Bone said...

If cutting what Mr. Crawford sees as "high performing and essential programs" is what it takes short-term to force the elimination of the plethora of "poorly performing and non-essential programs" in our state then that it a course of action that I highly approve.

I have no problem with Bryant's across the board cuts because it forces at the same time a much needed thinning of the MSGOP sacred cow herd.

I'd caution establishment Republicans that just as this conservative, and many other conservatives statewide, don't want to see one more tax dime dropped on MPB I also include the out-of-control 'public information' ad spending with SupertalkMS, for instance, as a clear example of non-essential spending that must be eliminated.

No way around it. Donkeycrats and Jim Hood are going to have to run on tax increases in 2019. Reeves and the Republicans aren't going to get rolled. Then we'll let the people decide to confirm or reverse the decisions they made in 2011 and 2015.

As it should be.

Next PLEASE... said...

If Gallo winds up in the unemployment line he'll have to stand on a stool to hear his name called. Can't we be a bit more respectful of outstanding talent?

Anonymous said...

Although a fan of Crawford, I often find myself in disagreement with his 'interpretation' of events - particularly when he takes the opportunity to dis the legislature and particularly its leadership.

The easy thing for Gunn and Reeves to do is what the Democrats in the legislature were pushing for -- eliminating or delaying the coming tax cuts/elimination. If they had done that, Crawford's rant could hold water. But instead of getting rid of some antiquated taxes (inventory tax & franchise tax in particular) so that they could avoid cutting budgets, they stayed within the estimated income and maintaining these revenue reductions.

Yes, they rolled into 'their' cuts the ones made by the Governor but to read Crawford's interpretation Bryant made those cuts because of his desire to reduce government. No, it goes back to the law passed years ago where the legislature passed off that job to the Governor in requiring him to make cuts when the revenue didn't meet expectations. Those cuts did have to be made across the board and in years past the legislative cuts have pretty much been the same.

But again Crawford fails to recognize that this year the legislature did in fact start cutting some programs much more significantly than others - using a filet knife rather than a machette. Of course whenever that happens the agencies use the Department of Interior strategy; get a cut and close the Washington Monument. Department of Mental Health closes the one men's treatment facility rather than consolidating some of their multiple county/regional offices.

And the crying over Colleges and University/Community College cuts (deep in Crawford's personal bailiwick) just doesn't sell. So, students are going to have less of their tuition subsidized by all the taxpayers in the state - they might have to pay a little more for their education. Tell me again why Mississippi needs multiple different Community College branches in the same county? What are the purposes of these CC's and how does that compare to their current function? Yes, they have a strong lobbying support among alumni, football fans, and local governments but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't have to compete in the marketplace. Offering reduced tuition to attract students should not be their agenda but as long as they could get more and more subsidy from the state why not continue in that mode.

I'm not in the legislature; nor am I in the tank for any of the current Republican leadership. But I getting there based on their willingness to stick with their efforts to cut back on these revenue streams that have no basis in current society. Now if they would work on a total revamping of the tax code, I might dive into that tank and start swimming along with them.

Anonymous said...

At 11:50 a.m.

How many more "If You See Something Say Something!" radio advertisements are needed on Supertalk for listeners to get the point? Supertalk is not dumb. They are already implementing the back-up plan if a crackdown on taxpayer-supported radio advertising ever came to pass. If you listened recently, the Supertalk shows are dedicating their airplay to the Mississippi Economic Council political agenda. I wonder if trashing Russ Latino is part of the contract with MEC or if Paawl Gallo tossed it in for free?

Crawford's motivations are harder to figure. He is not a fool. He is not a tool of radio advertisers, Jim Hood, or a board of directors. He doesn't fit nearly into anyone's faction. His truthfulness is above the median. He would be a yuuuuge problem for some Republicans if people still read the newspaper and followed state government.

Anonymous said...

His [Crawford's] truthfulness is above the median.

Not about Haley Barbour, Southern Company, Mississippi Power and Kemper it is not.

Anonymous said...

"You know, after looking at the education, amenities, and cities, I certainly would relocate my company to Mississippi, if only the taxes were just a little lower."

-No One Ever

Anonymous said...

Crawford's point is well taken with me.
Surely, none of you cut your personal budgets without a good idea of what your expected income will be!
And, if you reduce your spending, you look at those areas where you are spending inefficiently. You differentiate between necessities and luxuries.
If you don't look at government waste ( and I agree that we have too many state supported junior college campuses and universities for our population), you may get a smaller size government but it's just as inefficient and non-productive as it's larger version.
Surely you understand you don't cut bridge repair and not reduce the non-essential travel of highway commissioners, right? You get that some spending is matched and some isn't, don't you?
Legislators could create economies of scale to reduce spending by requiring state-wide purchasing on basic items rather than local purchasing.
They don't do this because they want to spread the political spoils. They want Bubba in Podunk to be able to use your tax money to buy from his big supporter , Dooley, back home.
They could eliminate duplication at the junior colleges and universities. They could put all higher education under one umbrella instead of two. They could give boards oversight responsibilities and not be advocacy boards.
But , if they did these things, assigning blame would be easy because voters could see where the responsibility belonged.

Cap and Gown, Then What? said...

Mississippi, I believe, had the first statewide junior college system in the nation and for years others used ours as a model for their own program of two year colleges.

Enough of this whining about too many community and junior college campuses. Actually, if the legislature would abolish or combine the 'senior colleges' (cutting out arguably a $billion$ in redundancy) we could build and fund twenty more junior college locations and offer them free in the process.

Junior colleges (should) prepare young people for work. Senior colleges indoctrinate, radicalize, socialize and concentrate on nebulous concepts thought up by pointy-headed professors and chancellors. True, in the process, the senior colleges may teach the basics in specialty occupations, but for the most part, all they do is suck money.

Anonymous said...

7:48 -- It's amazing how all the radical socialists from Mississippi State end up being engineers whose starting salary is $60K.

Have you ever been on a four-year college campus, or are you just imagining what you've heard described by Sean Hannity?

Anonymous said...

9:39; If you will reread my post you will see this statement: "True, in the process, the senior colleges may teach the basics in specialty occupations, but for the most part, all they do is suck money." That takes care of your engineer example.

I don't listen to Hannity and have a master's degree from the college of which you speak. Took me five years to get it, working and going part time, while avoiding pointy headed professors.

Anonymous said...

What gets me about this gunn and tate crowd is they don't know it's over. Hey guys, it's over. Really. No, I promise. This R will have no problem voting for Hood if we can't manage another R better than tate. Seriously, is there any group you're not crossed up with????

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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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