Editorial: Coming Soon to a State Near You
ALG Editor's Note: At press time, ALG News learned the that Kansas state budget has been signed into law, and the borrowing from state funds to pay for other fiscal items is moving forward after the budget was balanced.
Once again, government has dug itself into a bottomless fiscal hole from which the only escape—in their eyes—is to throw taxpayers even deeper into the abyss.
Like many fiscally-inept states around the country, Kansas is the latest to come face to face with a massive financial failure. Due to the worsening recession, overspending, and lower-than-expected tax returns, lawmakers dug into the state's wallet on Monday to find a mere $10 million. That's “million,” with an “m.”
This is a rather stark prospect considering the government is due to give back its residents $12 million in income tax returns, pay its state employees $24 million. And more. With what might be termed “understated eloquence”, state budget director Duane Goossen announced::
“We are out of cash, in essence.”
Clearly, “in reality” might have been far more accurate.
As a result of their fiscal incompetence, the state has taken an action so draconian that it undermines the very foundation of the social contract. It has decided to punish taxpayers by denying them their income tax refund checks (just as ALG News reported the state of California did . In other words, the government has resorted to outright theft, robbing Kansans of what is rightfully theirs.
As one Kansas taxpayer said in an interview:
“It's not fair because if we don't file on time, we get charged, you know, more money for not filing. And if they do it, you know, who's going to make them responsible for it?”
Feigning said responsibility, Kansas Governor Kathleen has devised a “solution”—which will, as one might expect, only exacerbate the problem.
In a half-hearted attempt to address the issue and quell the justified public outrage brewing in her state, the Democrat governor put forth a proposal to borrow $225 million from ‘healthy state funds' to deal with the current budget woes. The borrowed money can be paid back later.
Like most Big Government undertakings, however, Governor Sebelius' plan is not what it seems. From the outside, it may appear to be a sensible solution that both gives back the income tax refund checks and allows state employees to get their paychecks in a timely manner.
In actuality, the Governor's plan will merely offer a temporary mirage of financial solvency, meanwhile exacerbating the state's long-term financial troubles and subsequently burying the taxpayer under even more government debt.
Governor Sebelius's political procrastination disguised as a “solution” will undoubtedly thrust more debt into Kansas' lap and result in a greater taxpayer burden come June 30th—when the budget year ends and all borrowed money must be paid back. Factoring in interest, taxpayers will get stuck paying off a greater debt than they otherwise would have had to pay.
Understanding this reality, Kansas Republicans—controlling majorities in both chambers of the legislature—blocked the Governor's proposal. In doing so, they added that they might reconsider Mrs. Sebelius' proposal if she were willing to cut the budget herself or sign into law the Republicans' proposed $326 million budget-balancing cuts
In response to the Kansas Republicans' refusal to go along with the $225 million borrowing plan, the Governor angrily retorted:
“Through their refusal to act today, the Republican legislative leadership is jeopardizing our citizens' pocketbooks for no other reason than to play political games—games in which the only ones set to lose are Kansas families, workers and schools”
Notice that Mrs. Sebelius accepts no responsibility for having “jeopardized our citizens' pocketbooks” in the first place by spending tens of millions of dollars more than she knew was in the bank. Instead, in a desperate attempt to control the narrative, she feebly tries to paint the Republicans as the villains in this story. The truth, of course, is that the Republicans are the only ones displaying an iota of common sense in this dire circumstance.
It is in times like these when state governments must bite the bullet, hold their noses, and cut the budget. To the quick. When government fails in its fiduciary responsibility and outspends itself, taxpayers should not be punished—nor should they be duped by political trickery like Governor Sebelius' $225 million intra-state shell game.
Kansas Republicans are on the right track. The state ought to give its residents their duly deserved tax refund checks—on time—and simultaneously hack away at the budget.
They could even start with laying off the Governor.