Swickard: When budget cutting must be done

© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  There is a huge push in our country to talk about the office of the United State President without any data. Example: there is a notion that the protests about the election of Donald Trump are unprecedented. When Lincoln was declared the winner in 1860, nine states seceded from the Union. Our nation fought the Civil War.
            So far, our nation has not had any states quit but there is still time before Trump takes office. California is one state with citizens wanting to secede. They can’t because they have spent themselves into the poor house and only federal money can keep them going.
            California has overspent its budget 127 billion dollars. In round numbers that’s $3,500 per every person, dog, cat and hamster in the state. So, California is not going anywhere other than the poor house.
            New Mexico is over spending this year’s budget by about 500 million dollars. That’s about $250 for every person, dog, cat and coyote. Our representatives in Santa Fe need to stop spending everything in the coffers they can find and a little more each year. Restraint is needed.
            There is good news (hooray) and bad news (shuckins) as to the New Mexico budget. First the good news. It isn’t hopeless like what is happening in California. It can be fixed and New Mexico can live within its means with effective management from the representatives in Santa Fe.
            The bad news is that the solution will hurt. Some people will lose their jobs through no fault of their own. This cannot be helped. What has put New Mexico in dire straits (not the band) was the election of Bill Richardson in 2002. Previously Governor Gary Johnson had New Mexico as one of only five states with a rosy financial picture.
            But Bill Richardson came to New Mexico and the governorship with only one goal: to become the President of the United States. Every moment, action and tax dollar available was used to get Bill Richardson on the world’s stage as a top-tier presidential contender. This push to get Richardson the presidential nomination didn’t come cheap.
            Richardson worked to be declared the “Education Governor” of the United States. He won that moniker which came with a propensity to hire lots of people into the Public Schools. This was supposed to make New Mexico number one in education nationally. Sadly, spending lots of New Mexico tax dollars didn’t make Richardson president nor did it lift New Mexico education.
            Worse, once people are hired they expect to keep their jobs. With the downturn of oil and gas revenue the state of New Mexico has less money available and must do something. Most of the quick cures have already been done so this time it must be drastic. There are only two places to get this money.
            The first is to raise the gross receipts taxes substantially. In many places the gross receipts tax is above seven percent. Taking it to ten percent or more would cripple the economy. Don’t look to Corporate Taxes since they are only about ninety million dollars a year.
            The only place left to really make a cut is education. To balance the budget New Mexico needs to cut about ten percent from education. This is despite the education mantra that it doesn’t have enough money even now and need lots and lots more money.
            Most of the education budget is spent on people. That is why what must be cut are some of those people who were hired during the Richardson orgy of spending. There is one rule. NEVER fire or change the pay for teachers. The cuts must be with administration and everything else such as the legions of consultants in schools.
            Shrink the administrative overhead to balance the budget. It can be done without harm to the students. The representatives will need to cut other things but the main thing is to cut education. Politically that is almost impossible but the next election is as far away as possible so maybe it can be done.
            Finally, quit spending everything the state has and a little more than the state has each year. Don’t turn our state into a California.



Post a Comment