In Kentucky, a state legislator lays it on the line with a clarity that is stunning. The legislature there is pushing a bond measure to stimulate the flagging Bluegrass State economy.
The revenue enhancement — meant to raise more than $300 million in the next two years — passed the House last week on a 64-36 vote along mostly party lines. Every Democrat except two supported the measure. Republicans were united against it with one exception.
"That was their choice — they made that choice," [House speaker Greg] Stumbo said when telling reporters that opponents of the revenue plan would not be in line for school construction projects as part of the spending plan….
The flurry of construction projects, he said, are aimed at creating about 25,000 jobs in a state plagued by high unemployment. State officials announced last week that Kentucky's annual unemployment rate for 2009 jumped to a 26-year high of 10.5 percent.
Stumbo said opponents of the revenue bill could still be in line to get road projects in their districts as part of proposed bonding for transportation work….
Got that? No yes vote, no money generated by that yes vote. But if you vote yes on the next spending package, well then, we'll talk.
There's an easy solution to this impasse, I think, and it doesn't involve the bellyaching of opposing politicians saying that new construction dollars should be allocated based on need rather than support of spending the taxpayers money: Folks represented by no votes should not have to pay any sort of tax or interest or any cost related to "revenue enhancement" or to the $1 billion-plus shortfall that's already burning a hole through Kentucky's two-year budget cycle. Without new dough, officials say, the only "alternative would be painful cuts to education and human services." Kentucky's budget is around $17.5 billion. I'm betting there is a ton of pretty painless cuts to be made in a budget that size.
Another moment of legislative greatness which is, I'm sure, representative of a state just like yours:
The proposed tax change [in negotiations for the next two-year budget that starts on July 1] drawing the most attention would temporarily suspend tax write-offs for businesses reporting losses. The proposal would generate an estimated $72 million in the first year of the next budget cycle and $90 million in the second year.
Supporters said the proposal is a tax suspension, not a tax increase. They said the write-off generally benefits large companies with multiple subsidiaries.
Did the late 20th century suck this bad?