Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, as well as governors throughout the nation, are being criticized for calling for major, if not drastic, cuts in many of their state’s large tax-supported programs.
Brownback is being attacked for proposing cuts in state funding for education, eliminating some state departments and the merging of others. He is facing up to the realities of Kansas’ fiscal condition.
The public considers some programs as untouchable, sacred cows and believes the governor is insensitive and uncaring in proposing any cuts in these areas.
The fact is, whether in Kansas, Illinois, California, or even Washington, D.C., and in the federal budget, the chickens are coming home to roost. After years of spending beyond their budgets, states and the federal government are almost broke. It is so serious there is talk about allowing states to declare bankruptcy.
When President Obama was handing out billions of dollars in stimulus money to hire more police, teachers and to fund numerous other programs, politicians supporting the Democrats and Obama loved it. Few of those authorizing the payouts, and few of the recipients, talked about how they planned to pay for the added services when the federal funding ended. Obama alone is not responsible for the current crisis, but he and Democratic congressmen approved massive spending legislation.
Some of the federal handouts may have resulted in and perhaps were created with the idea of winning votes. But now the federal government and the states are trying to figure out how to balance their budgets. How do states come up with the money to replace vanishing federal dollars and pay for the teachers, police and other programs previously funded by Uncle Sam?
There are only two ways out: Cut spending and/or raise taxes.
States can’t print money as the federal government does so easily. States can’t vote on increasing their debt limit as Congress does to pay for the constantly growing federal appetite.
Tonight, during the State of the Union, Americans will hear how Obama intends to deal with the historic, ugly and deadly federal debt. Brownback and other governors already have tried to present their critical fiscal situations in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. They have proposed cuts or huge tax increases, or both.
The public thinks it is entitled to more and more services but usually thinks someone else should be expected to pay for the ever-increasing costs of those services.
As noted above, the chickens are coming home to roost and now the president, governors, members of Congress and those in state legislatures have to face the option of either making major cuts in expenditures or raising taxes. Otherwise, the recent stories telling of economic disasters in Greece, Spain and Ireland soon could be repeated in news stories with datelines of Washington, D.C., Lincoln, Jefferson City, Springfield and Topeka.