Thursday, April 16, 2009

Budget Denied

So why do I keep voting no on all those appropriation bills? Well, some of the budgets are better than others, but they nearly all have the same fatal flaw. The flaw is an across the board five percent cut on state employee salaries. Now, intelligent people may disagree as to whether or not state employees should be asked to hold the bag in the economic down turn. However, it is undeniable that reducing state employee pay will have a direct and negative impact on Idaho's economy.

State employees, generally speaking, are middle income earners. Due to this, as a group, their savings rate is relatively low. This low savings rate, justified or not, means that they spend what they make. It also means they would find it very difficult to absorb any cut. It is likely that the cuts will result in increased debt and potentially loss of homes. More certainly, this cut will have a direct and negative impact on the multiplier effect within our economy. This impact will only prolong our recession.

In addition to the negative economic impact, there is a question of control. That is, who should decide how state agencies are managed? Is it the proper role of the legislature to manage state agencies? I don't think so. Some may say, "But negotiations are in the works right now. The across the board component may go away." Well, frankly, may doesn't mean shall. Given the history of the legislature, I am not comforted that the negotiations will conclude in anything that will resolve these harms.

As a lawmaker, I am asked to "vote on the bill before me." The bills before me don't allow managers to manage. The bills before also will have a substantial negative impact on our economy. I will continue to vote no.

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