by Robert Maynard
Here at True North we have been highly critical of all the proposed tax hikes that have been coming out of Montpelier. For every tax hike proposal there are excuses by those voting for it as to why it was needed. The problem with buying into these excuses, is that signing onto tax hikes enables the irresponsible spending binge that we are on. What we really need is not more taxes, but less spending. It looks like there is an amendment proposed by the Vermont GOP House members to at least slow the growth of state spending. According to a Vermont Digger article posted today: “House Republicans are proposing an amendment to the Big Bill on Friday that would significantly reduce state spending in 2014.” Actually, it slows the rate of increase in spending rather that reduce it: “The amendment would reduce overall General Fund spending growth from 4.7 percent to 3.7 percent. The House GOP would cut the Appropriations Committee budget by $15.9 million.”
My guess is that the $15.9 million cut is not a cut in the amount that the committee had spent last year, but a cut in its “baseline” budget. I explained the notion of “baseline budgeting” vs. “zero based budgeting” during the discussion over the dreaded sequester. Baseline budgeting is when you have a baseline target for automatic spending increases. Any spending that is less than that baseline is called a cut under baseline budgeting. A real world example is if you spending $1000 on something and intended to spend $2000 on that same budget category next year. If you end up spending $1500 that would be considered a $500 cut under baseline budgeting because it is $500 less than the baseline that you intended to spend, even though it is a $500 spending increase from what you were spending. Under zero based budgeting, which is what is used in the real world outside of politics, the so-called $500 spending “cut” would actually be a $500 spending increase. I point this out in the interest of accuracy, not to belittle what the House GOP members are proposing. In reality, even this mild slowdown in the rate of spending growth has little chance of passing in a House dominated by liberal Democrats and Progressives. That should give the reader an idea of just how out of touch with fiscal reality the House majority is.
Here is a little more on the GOP plan led by Don Turner:
Don Turner, Minority Leader in the House, told his caucus on Thursday that the plan builds reserves, funds the teacher pension system at a higher level and preserves spending on child care, higher education, working landscape grants and the Low Income Heating Assistance Program.
The House GOP proposal puts $3.8 million in temporary reserves in anticipation of federal sequestration and $15.2 million in the rainy day fund; the House Appropriations Committee puts $3.8 million in temporary reserves and $5.35 million in the rainy day fund.