Is Legislature backward on the budget?by Mark B. Evans on May. 19, 2009, under Local, Special
Is the state Legislature working backward trying to craft a budget?
The more logical approach to budget making would seem to be determining the size and cost of government, then setting a rate of taxation to pay for it.
Instead, because of the bad economy causing tax income shortfalls, the Legislature is determining the amount of taxation then figuring out the size of government. By a majority of members making a “no tax” pledge, they’ve painted themselves into a corner, unwilling to raise revenue but also unwilling to eviscerate essential government services.
The problem I have with “no tax” pledges is that they border on anarchy. Certainly those who abhor taxes and government don’t argue for anarchy. If they do, we can dismiss them as extreme radicals with no constituency and therefore no real place in a democracy.
But anarchy is not the argument, it’s limited government. Many conservatives who make no tax pledges are really limited government advocates, not antitax boosters. The problem is that the limited government argument has been a political loser for decades (don’t point to the past eight years of Republican control of Congress and the White House, or the nearly 20 years of Republican control of Arizona’s Legislature as a counter to that last sentence, there’s been nothing “limited” about either).
To get elected, candidates for public office tell their constituents all the things they can have, not what they can’t.
But once elected, they try to backdoor the size of government policy by starving the beast, as Grover Norquist said, by cutting off government’s lifeblood, taxes.
Liberals, on the other hand, are big government advocates. But they go about promising world changing programs without rational debates on the cost and the effect the taxation will have on economic activity.
According to the Laffer curve, 0 percent taxation equals zero government and therefore anarchy and no real economic activity. Conversely, 100 percent taxation stifles all economic activity, which leads to no tax collection and therefore anarchy.
The goal of government is to then strike the balance between the optimal amount of government to promote the optimal amount of economic activity to create the optimal amount of taxation so that all the goals of a society can be met, private and public.
I’d rather the Legislature was spending its time determining the size of government and then how much tax to pay for it rather than the tax determines the government. That’s backward.
What do you think? Keep the argument rational, please. Keep your adhominem attacks to yourselves. As my former philosophy professor used to say a the end of every class: “Live a cogent life.”