Jan | Feb 2014


 



Straight Talk

SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE
Scott Pattison
Executive Director
National Association of State Budget Officers
“Citizens and their elected representatives are going to need—over the next few years, because of the tight budget situations—to just step back and decide what is the role of government in the state and what should the state provide and what should the state not provide, because it’s going to have a huge bearing on whether taxes are raised or kept the same, whether certain things are going to need to be cut. I think there needs to be an acceptance and an understanding that there’s not enough money to do everything everybody wants state government to do. Something has got to give.”

 

 

 
BUDGETING IS A DIFFICULT BALANCE
Rep. Maxine Bell
Co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance Appropriations, Idaho
Co-chair of CSG’s National Finance Committee
“We have core responsibilities, health and safety and education, and in a short budget year you cannot fully fund one of those core responsibilities to the detriment of the other responsibilities. It’s a terribly difficult balance. That little old person who is retired and lives on a back street in a small town, they only want to be safe. And yet there’s the family down the street with two or three bright little kids, and they only want them to be educated. They don’t ever seem to meet together and understand the issues from the other person’s point of view. We sit here and we see all those points of view and then we kind of muddle through it.”

 

 

 
STRUCTURAL CHANGE IS NEEDED
Sen. Susan Bartlett
Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Vermont
“Government is always talking about structural change, but we don’t ever very often seem to get there until it hits the fan. We’ve already made a lot of reductions in services and this year we’re going to see a lot more in the way of reductions of services to folks. If we ever want to replace those services, we have to significantly restructure how we offer those services so we can do them in a much more affordable manner.”

 

 

 
GET BACK TO BASICS
Sen. Randy McNally
Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance Ways and Means
Tennessee
“I think certainly expectations should be lowered and I think that to the extent we can get back to our basic answering the basic needs of the people—such as education and public safety, mental health, developmental disabilities—that’s where we need to be. ... Having cycles in which you have growth and then you have downturns, it’s not all that bad because one can function, cut to more essential programs, and then in the good times if you’re smart you can either return the money to the taxpayers or make sure … your reserves are strong and adequate because there will always be the ups and downs.”

 

 

 
MANY TOOK SERVICES FOR GRANTED
Sen. Donne Trotter
Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Illinois
“Our coffers are bare. We just haven’t been able to keep up with the economic crisis. … When people aren’t working, they aren’t purchasing; when they aren’t purchasing, we aren’t generating taxes. When we aren’t generating taxes, it means we aren’t generating revenues to pay for those services that people need and expect. So the national (and) international crisis is exacerbated with our own critical needs here in Illinois. When people aren’t working, they become more dependent on the services that many just took for granted because they were there ...”