Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We are "not under-taxed. The government has simply over-spent..."

Andrew Malcolm, LA Times: State of the State Address by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, as provided by her office
...[W]e must not sugarcoat it: New Mexico is in a state of financial crisis. [LB: Like the US itself, and most of the other states, particularly those which have been traditionally run by Democrats (or at least liberals) like California and Illinois and New York. New Jersey elected Chris Christie a year-and-a-half-ago and, while their problems still exist, they're headed in the right direction.]

We face an historic budget deficit that will require candor to address and courage to resolve. No more shell games. No more rosy projections. We must tell New Mexicans the truth: Our financial house is a mess and it’s time we clean it up.

The day I was elected governor, the state’s budget deficit was estimated at just over 200 million dollars. A week later, it doubled and grew to almost half a billion dollars.

In the past, New Mexico’s serious budget problems have been papered over with unrealistic projections and temporary infusions of federal stimulus dollars.
[LB: This is one of the serious, negative, unintended and generally not remarked upon side-effects of the porkulus bill - to a large extent, it has allowed state governments to keep pouring money into sinkholes that need to be fixed, and delayed the moment when those fixes would take place, worsening the problems in the meantime. Talk about throwing good money after bad...] This allowed politicians to shirk responsibility and avoid tough decisions. [LB: Exactly.] But I am here to tell the people of New Mexico that the days of kicking the can down the road are over.

We have all been elected to take action. We may not be responsible for creating this financial crisis but we are all responsible for solving it. During difficult economic times, balancing the budget is not easy, but how we choose to go about the task is critical because our budget blueprint is a statement about our values.
[LB: Where have you heard that before?]

That’s why my budget protects core priorities like classroom spending in education and healthcare for those most in need.

By making cuts elsewhere, my budget only requires the education bureaucracy to trim 1.5% from the administration. Only 1.5%.

Now, you’ve heard some special interest groups say this can’t be done. They claim there is no waste in the bureaucracy. Not even 1.5%.
[LB: Laughing very hard at this one...] I don’t buy it and neither do the people of New Mexico.

New Mexicans are not fooled when bureaucrats, whose salaries are many times that of the average teacher, claim the only place to cut is from the classroom. They’re not fooled when a school district spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on PR staff and then claims it has nowhere to cut but the classroom.

Or when school districts waste education dollars hiring lobbyists but then claim that the budget must be balanced by cutting teachers.

The truth is, the waste is there and it must be eliminated.
[LB: Necessary, but not sufficient. As much as government waste and inefficiency is a problem, the far, FAR bigger problem is government doing things it just should not be doing in the first place.]

...

We must remember that the long-term solution to our budget woes is economic growth. We increase revenue by helping small businesses create new jobs -– not by government creating new taxes.

Let me speak plainly: New Mexicans are not under-taxed. The government has simply over-spent.
Governor Martinez joins Chris Christie in New Jersey as a Governor stepping up to big challenges and facing them. I have heard more good policy out of Republicans in the last three months than in the last 25 years.

But it's easy to say things. It's hard, sometimes, to do them. Only time will tell if they get it right, but some of them are clearly singing from the right hymnal...

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