It’s not easy
By Jody Reese
The state is in a bit of a pickle. Revenues are less than expected and legislators are scrambling to find ways to close the $140 million deficit. While this is understandable in the short run, the governor and legislature should take a broader view of what we want our government to do and how much we’re willing to pay for it — maybe just in time for the next budget cycle.
In the meantime the hits keep coming, with proposals from all sorts of gambling ideas to closing state offices for one day a week to selling state land.
Some of the bad ideas have come to pass. The state closed the already burdened court system for a day to save money. More closings are slated. The already slow court system will only get slower. Justice delayed is justice denied. Courts are one of the oldest and most central services government provides. In a society governed by laws, we need quick access to courts.
Rather than all these little — almost always bad — ideas, we need open and honest discussion about what we want out of our state government and how much we’re willing to pay for it, from what we think we should pay in pension benefits to how much we should help families with disabled children. It won’t be easy. And then we should talk about how we want to raise that money. Taxes, fees, gambling? It’s better to have that discussion without the gun of a deficit facing you.