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All Budget Cuts Shouldn't Be Equal (1/10/12)
Last week, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear delivered his State of the Commonwealth message, and it seems the Commonwealth is in a bad state, indeed.
So bad that he cautioned we'll be "forced to carve into some of our most critical, basic services," and he told all departments to plan for budget cuts of seven to nine percent.
But are across the board cuts really wise?
I've always felt that Kentucky's fiscal problems aren't due to a shortage of revenue, but an excess of spending. In good times, the state took on far too many functions that really aren't the responsibility of government. And now, in tough times, we can't differentiate between what's essential and what's not.
But we need to. Given the state of our education system, does it really make sense to subject it to the same kinds of cuts as some obscure social program that benefits very few? Should law enforcement suffer equally with some legislator's personal pork barrel project?
Suggesting equal cuts in all programs implies that all state spending has equal value, and that's just not true.
The brave solution would be to maintain funding levels for those programs that perform truly essential functions and pay for it by eliminating, or drastically cutting, those that don't. And I hope the Governor will try to do exactly that.