To most likely no one’s surprise, the state budget wizards announced last week that a $400 million slash in spending will be necessary to offset a decline in tax revenues but what that will really mean for state residents remains a question mark.
The cuts can be traced to the COVID-19 epidemic and one thing we know for sure is the state is going to shield spending for education. That makes sense but how the other cuts will be implemented and when and for how long are unknown.
A lot of the future fiscal health of the state hinges on action in the U.S. Congress. Federal assistance to the state could go a long way to cushion what is sure to be a hard blow if projected cuts are instituted. Yes, education will remain fully funded, but what about money for roads and the myriad of other items necessary for a healthier, more vibrant state?
Federal help is necessary, and while the U.S. House already OK’d a $3 trillion plan to aid states, the blueprint will face scrutiny in the GOP-controlled Senate this week. That means, most likely, an extended period of political grandstanding and not much progress.
Partisan showboating is nothing new to American politics and, at least lately, elected leaders on both sides of the political aisle have turned it into a remarkable art form. From false accusations, to subverting the Constitution, nothing appears off limits in today’s political climate. The aim, it seems, is to create as much angst, division and discomfort as humanly possible. That’s all good for must-see TV, and great for the pundits that fill up the major network news hours, but if you are a voter at the end of the day, it doesn’t get you very far.
That’s because while we all have our own political beliefs and values — and in our county they are staunchly Republican — bleating political dogma doesn’t get the roads or bridge fixed and doesn’t really address the issue of impacts from COVID-19 to the average Joe.
What it does do is create a lot of political theater.
The Senate will surely create its own plan for relief for states and then everyone will fight about it. At the coffee shop we will be able to point to how bad the Democrats or the Republicans are and the problems that need collective action will remain unsolved.
Lawmakers in Congress need to put aside the partisan bickering, operate like statesman and develop a compromise plan and get help to states as soon as possible. That type of behavior won’t give the pundits a lot to talk about and it sure won’t help the lunatic fringes of both sides, but it will certainly help voters.
What a concept, huh?