Now that the GOP has captured a total of 31 statehouses, the governors are facing the massive problem of budget shortfalls that have come from years of conservatives slashing taxes like crazy. In the process, they’ve also cut social spending off at the knees while still trying to fund their pet projects — like all those prisons the country is in dire need of to house marijuana smokers and undocumented workers.
According to a report by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO):Budget growth has remained below the historical average throughout the recovery period … Overall, states are in a much better position than they were a few years ago … However the cumulative effect of slow revenue growth and rising spending demands indicates that budgetary tradeoffs are likely to persist in fiscal 2015.
Slow revenue growth is to continue? What’s a fiscal conservative to do?
Increasingly, GOP governors are going against the party line with proposals to raise taxes — but not on the wealthy. Of course not. They’re proposing to hit the little guy where it hurts — in his wallet.
Thanks to the New York Times, here is a brief summary of how many of the GOP-dominated states are dipping into citizens’ pockets:
SOUTH DAKOTA‘s Gov. Dennis Daugaard wants an increase in the gas tax and fees related to motor vehicles.
UTAH‘s Gov. Gary R. Herbert increased the tobacco tax and has his eye on doing the same to the gasoline tax.
MAINE‘s Gov. Paul R. LePage wants to increase the sales tax and apply it to more goods, but only — get this! — in order to lower the income tax and get rid of the estate tax. Now there’s a guy who knows on which side his bread is buttered!
KANSAS‘ Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas created such a huge fiscal mess by cutting business and income taxes that he almost didn’t survive the re-election process. But sure enough, voters put him back into office anyway and now he plans to thank them by raising taxes on their cigarettes and liquor. Now there’s something to raise a glass to!
SOUTH CAROLINA‘s Gov. Nikki R. Haley is all for hiking the gas tax — if the legislature will use it to cut the income tax by a third.
ARIZONA‘s Gov. Doug Ducey decided he’d have to delay dumping the income tax, which was a campaign promise, because the tax provides one-third of the state’s budget. How else is he going to deal with the $1 billion deficit left to him by his predecessor, the evil Jan Brewer? Or to subsidize all the private prisons that he thinks should be built in his state?
ILLINOIS and MARYLAND‘s GOP governors are also facing huge budget deficits, but heaven forbid that they should do anything so drastic as raise taxes.
ARKANSAS, MISSISSIPPI and NEBRASKA are going to slash taxes even further below current levels because their states are apparently not poor enough yet.
These strategies to reduce or eliminate income taxes, which is of great benefit to those with high incomes, while raising taxes on goods and services that will most affect the lower end of the income spectrum, aren’t based in fact. Quite the contrary. According to a study released last year by the Center On Budget And Policy Priorities:
“Rather than bet their futures on a tax-cutting approach that has not worked particularly well in the past, states would do better to concern themselves with improving their schools, transportation networks, and other public services that act as building blocks of economic growth.“
But, nah! That would be providing too much benefit to the underclasses — you, me,and all the other people who keep the economy rolling with long hours and a strong work ethic. Instead, GOP, you go right ahead and tax the means for employees to get to work every day and for them to enjoy what creature comforts they can still afford.
If you’re lucky, slashing education funding to the bone will work the way you want it to. The voters in your states will stay as ignorant in the next election as they were when they put you into office.