Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blind, Deaf - And Dangerously Dumb

There are times in life when a person - or even a group of people - hate to be right.

For our staff, today is another one of those days.

The subject we were right about is one we began sounding warnings on last year, and one that we pointed to as a key item to watch in 2011: the attempt by government, at all levels, to try and weasel out of their responsibilities by taking away funds from other parts of government.

On Wednesday, Nebraska joined a growing list of states who are cannibalizing their finances, because they've backed themselves into political and fiscal corners with rhetoric.

Nebraska's attempt at stupidity involves the claim that the state budget gap would shrink significantly - if only the state didn't have to pay for its responsibilities to aid local governments.

For example, by helping to keep property taxes low.

If politicians on the state level who vote for this idiotic measure think they're not going to be held responsible, and politically liable in the next election, for a significant increase in local property taxes if they pass this bill, we'd advise them to stop using reruns of Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck as their legal and political reference sources.

Many other states from coast to coast, have been contemplating equally stupid measures recently. To our knowledge, only one state has, so far, had the courage to do the truly fiscally responsible thing - not only cutting its budgets on both the state and local levels, but also raising taxes on those who have the money.

That state would be Illinois.

For all the hoopla raised about how corrupt Illinois politics are, at least those who run that state have done more than just give lip service to the idea that they have "considered every solution" to their state's budget problems. So far, the sky still hasn't fallen in over Illinois.

Facts are facts.

Nebraska's population isn't what it was five years ago, or ten years ago, or twenty years ago. A LARGE number of new people have moved to our state, specifically to urban areas. Regardless of whether they are temporary or permanent residents, migrant workers or college students, those designations aren't going to change the fact that more people means state government needs to provide more services than can be paid for by the amount of taxes we've currently been collecting.

The idea that Nebraska - or ANY state - can simply cut its way to a balanced budget, when it wasn't collecting enough revenue before the cutting began is not only preposterous, it's dangerous.

We imagine the state of Nebraska will find out exactly how dangerous soon enough, when the items that local cities and towns find money for in their own budgets are their own local priorities - while the priorities of the state will be left to rot.

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