Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who's Balancing the Budget With Band-Aids?

Craig Sandler of the State House News Service wrote this in today's weekly news roundup:

[House Ways and Means] chairman Robert DeLeo [said] on the Finneran show "I don't think that we can do a quick-fix, Band-Aid approach for this particular fiscal year by so-called corporate tax loopholes. I think that it's jobs, it's jobs, it's jobs, it's better-paying jobs, more businesses coming into the Commonwealth,"

It's immediately recognizable as a problematic statement: investing in job creation will do next to nothing to balance the FY '08 budget, though it may be great for the ones at the end of the decade. And the Band-Aid is the budgeting tool of choice in this House budget; once again, lawmakers raid reserve funds in preference to painful cuts that would bring the budget into truer structural balance.
Sandler is dead-on in that second paragraph. Taking money out of the rainy day fund, and especially out of the tobacco settlement fund is the Band-Aid, not changing the tax code to raise more revenue. Now, if the House budget were balancing itself with deep cuts to services, that would be one thing, but certainly dipping into the state's emergency savings is the very definition of a quick-fix.

Update: Speaking of Band-Aids, I noticed in this Boston Globe Editorial that the House version of the budget "would not accommodate the governor's plan to increase immunization programs by the Department of Public Health." That seems to me to be very short-sighted, particularly since everyone is keenly aware of the high cost of health care. There's no better way to reduce system-wide health care costs than to stop people from getting sick. Immunization is the most cost-effective way to achieve that.