WaPo Wrong on State Spending
The Washington Post’s Michael Fletcher had a report July 1st on state budgets that reads more like an opinion editorial than a staff report. Fletcher wrote,
Nothing less than the nation’s nascent economic recovery hangs in the balance. States say that if they do not find financial rescue they will have to cut services and workers. That would deliver a potentially crippling blow to the economy, which needs higher employment levels to fatten wallets, promote spending, bolster tax revenue and reduce dependence on expensive social services.
States face a combined deficit of $89 billion in the fiscal year that begins Thursday, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And because every state but Vermont is required to balance its budget, the only recourse is cutting employees or vital programs, including education spending, medical services, programs for the disabled and elderly, and police and fire protection.
Fletcher also points to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study that says such deep cuts could result in nearly one million jobs lost. Fletcher assumes that the only way we can cut spending is through tough cuts to police, fire protection and education programs and that spending cuts will reduce jobs.
Education and medical service spending may need reform and more transparency, but there are plenty of wasteful programs to cut in each state. For instance, “The state of Washington sent $1 food stamp checks to 250,000 households in order to raise state caseload figures and trigger $43 million in additional federal funds.”
Illinois State Policy Institute found $350 million in wasteful spending the state’s government could cut, including “$140,000 the state has contributed to the national celebration of the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln at a time when there already are streets, towns and schools named in his honor.” And if you want to know what rampant spending can do to an economy, look no further than Greece.