May 16, 2011
One after another, financial authorities in the different states have embarrassed their governors by announcing they were taking in more money than expected. In Michigan, officials said that the state would take in 700 million dollars more for the year. In California, state authorities announced an “unexpected surge” of 2.5 billion dollars in taxes for just the first months of the year. In Massachusetts, officials announced that in April the government had taken in close to 600 million dollars than expected in one month. And Kansas announced that it had collected 3% more in taxes in April than expected.
For the last few years, state governors – Republican and Democrat – had used dire talk about budget deficits as a great big club to attack the population. They swung the deficit club to cut every social program in sight. They swung the deficit club to attack their own workforce, imposing layoffs, furloughs, pay and benefit cuts. They slashed aid to local agencies and city governments that provided vital services and programs, starting with education and health care, leading to more job cuts.
The budget scam was this: they had no choice, the deficit made them do it. They said it was a structural deficit. They said that state government had to learn to live within their means.
All the while, these politicians were handing all the money they had stolen, through the cuts and layoffs, and turning it over to big business and the wealthy. The politicians cut business taxes – over and over again. They privatized entire departments, granting rich contracts to their wealthy friends: janitorial, administration, IT. They turned public schools into charter schools, run by corporations, with big profits coming from money paid by the government, while dumping teachers and staff and forcing the new hires to work much more for much less pay. And they provided rich subsidies of all sorts.
It was a regular budget deficit gravy train. And the politicians have been riding it for all that it is worth. Apparently, they had gotten away with these scams for so long, they were caught off-guard when their financial departments actually let a little light on the real budget.
But the governors didn’t miss a beat.
California’s Jerry Brown, a Democrat, said that he will continue to push for the extension of expiring tax increases – in sales, income and vehicle taxes, that is, taxes on working people. He then announced that he would close 70 state parks immediately.
And Michigan’s Rick Snyder, a Republican, had his budget director announce that he would go ahead with severe cuts that are planned for education, Community Health, social services and “other areas of the budget,” while pushing through the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax, said to be worth 1.8 billion dollars per year.
These liars! We have no reason to accept a single cut. No reason to give up a single concession.
There is money for education, public services, and social programs. The wealthy have stolen it! Take it back from them!