by Max Brantley
For those following the partisan politicization of the state budget process by the Republican Party, I'd recommend this thorough rundown by John Lyon and Rob Moritz of Stephens Media.
Minority Leader John Burris has pretty well made clear either earlier or in today's article that 1) Republicans targeted agencies they don't like much and 2) want to arbitrarily cut spending to make way for future tax cuts. Consequences in state services to citizens are NOT at the top, or even much of a part, of their agenda. They did not raise questions about these supposedly bloated agencies in the budgeting process that preceded the session. Why were they not making this case point by point before the Joint Budget Committee — with its bipartisan leadership?
They've waited until now to make a political show for the election season. It's cynical, it's partisan, it's designed to score points, not serve the public.
Arbitrary cuts don't make sense. Cuts just to make cuts don't make sense. A real reduction in an agency budget (not a reduction in rate of growth) means jobs and services will be lost. The idea to fund Medicaid from surplus is, as the governor noted, particularly alarming. Burris and Co. essentially want to set a new, lower baseline for Medicaid spending and thus require future draconian cuts in services to your grandmama in the nursing home; the factory worker on disability thanks to repetitive stress syndrome; the poor children of working parents in need of an antibiotic for an ear infection. Tax cuts have consequences.
I can't help but remember the Republican legislators who HOWLED at the removal of a Republican political appointee who was spending time at his pizza parlor when he should have been at his state office. Let's talk about government waste.