Wednesday, July 09, 2003

The Governor said he'd do it, and now he has. The "budget" put forth by the General Assembly has been vetoed. Sure, it may be only a temporary thing as the Democrats easily have the votes to overturn the veto, but the message has been sent. From the article:

Carcieri said the Assembly has accomplished many good things this year, including passing separation-of-powers legislation, overhauling the state's fire codes and helping to keep GTECH in the state.

"However, there is one overriding issue that will smother that spirit . . . It's what I call a spending addiction," Carcieri said. "The General Assembly -- not all [members] -- has continued a bad habit of out-of-control spending that was born in the prosperous years of the late '90s. That party came to an end almost three years ago. But most of the General Assembly has refused to accept that fact."

Meanwhile, I saw that Rep. Sherlock tried again to play the "poor state worker" card and say that the Governor was really just attacking the little guy blahblah blah blah.

The problem is this:

To balance the past two budgets, the General Assembly relied on money from the settlement of a tobacco lawsuit. This year, $102 million in last-minute federal aid closed the gap.

"That's like cashing in the 401k to pay the mortgage and electric bill," Carcieri said.

Noting that these are one-time revenue sources, Carcieri asked: "What happens next?"

The state is projected to start this year with a $34.7-million surplus -- the last of the tobacco settlement -- and to end the year with a surplus of about $250,000. Carcieri predicts that in next year's budget, the state will face a deficit exceeding $170 million.

"Reasonable budgeting does not assume that the doors of the federal treasury will be open again next year," Carcieri told the Assembly in his veto message. "By increasing our operating costs on the basis of an unexpected windfall, we are simply creating a larger problem for next year."

Yup. And it has to stop. I believe when most people come up with a budget for their own family, they generally try to live within their means and don't plan on winning the lottery to pay for the SUV they want. Instead, they actually set money aside for emergencies, learn to live within their means and hope for some growth. That's not what has been going on here in the Ocean State, and it's time for some fiscal sanity to start. Finally, this editorial in today's ProJo really boils it down. The problem is the cost incurred by the state in employing its workers.

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