Here’s some stuff I didn’t have room for in my Sunday column.
The bottom line is that even the things the governor says that sound reasonable don’t hold up when you run the numbers:
In his veto letter (on page 3), the governor says the following:
I have heard the arguments from some state legislators that "growing government by 13 percent this year simply puts us back to where we were before we had to make those midyear budget cuts." That is simply not true.The Budget is $744 million above the previous budget high-water mark that people talk of "getting back to," as is shown by the following chart.
He’s right that it is not true. And indeed, in raw, unadjusted dollars there is a $744 million increase over the highest previous year. But the real reason the statement is not true is that there is no real-world increase at all, and the latest budget falls far short of "getting back to" what we were funding before. In fact, it is actually a $247 million cut when adjusted for inflation.
In 2006, you have to come up with $6.623 billion to have the buying power of the $5.632 billion "high-water" budget passed in 2000. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.
The budget that the governor just vetoed is $6.376 billion. It falls short by $247 million from getting back to where we were before the cuts.
The governor also writes (on page 2) that:
I have consistently advocated limiting the growth in state government spending to a rate that reasonably correlated with the people’s ability to sustain it over time. Some would argue that this rate is population plus inflation, currently about 5.5 percent. Others say it should be the state’s average personal income growth, now about 6 percent.
When adjusted using the same official inflation calculator, the state budget grew by 6.41 percent from the one passed last year — not by 13 percent or even 10 percent.
So lawmakers who argue with the governor — if they have a clue as to what’s really going on — would not say, "growing government by 13 percent this year simply puts us back …." First, because it’s not growing by that rate. Second, because it doesn’t put us back at all. If they said either of those things, they’d be just as wrong as the governor is.