Facts Are Stubborn Things (Op-ed)
That headline is part of an often used quote from our second President, John Adams.
The full quote reads: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
One of our topics on Wingin’ It Wednesday brought that quote to mind as we discussed the state of the state’s budget problems. We talked about the difference in approach by Governor John Bel Edwards and his Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, who are busy figuring out which taxes to increase, and State Treasurer John Kennedy, who has for many years advocated strategic cuts to non-essential programs and contracts
to bring the budget back to fiscal sanity.
Here’s where those stubborn facts come in and no matter what our inclinations, the facts, as laid out by Treasurer Kennedy, LABI and other government watchdogs, are:
1) Over the last 10 years, spending has increased by 44 percent, while the economy has grown less than 25 percent.
2) There’s been about a $1 billion increase in Medicaid which is now about a third of the budget and within 5 years, will grow to be half of the state budget...and the Governor wants more.
3) Spending has increased hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the state’s 13 public retirement systems - just one of which has experienced an increase in costs by $300 million - other states have consolidated and reformed their retirement systems thus reducing costs while ensuring the retirees will be protected.
4) The state sends local governments nearly $5 billion annually
5) Some 400 dedications in the budget add up to very little spending flexibility.
6) We have more four-year universities than Florida, despite being 20 percent the population, and we have five higher education governing boards compared to North Carolina’s two.
7) Finally, LA spends the highest pere capita of all the Southern states and we’re still at the top of the bad lists and the bottom of the good ones.
In short, it’s the spending, stupid, and until that’s fixed, no amount of new taxes will solve our budget problems.