Meg Whitman released her “policy book” the other day. One of these proposals was a “spending cap” of sorts. And she talked to the Bee about it.
As eMeg explains it, she’s going to go back to the 2004-2005 budget, and then account for inflation and population growth. And, then attempt to apply a “productivity factor” to reduce spending in each department by 1%.
It sounds really sensible. One problem: It doesn’t come close to solving our budget problems. In 2004-2005, our general fund expenditures were at approximately $80 billion. The 2010-2011 budget, as currently scheduled will spend $83 Billion. (2009-2010 was $86 bn.) So, once you account for inflation and population growth, you are at well over our predicted expenditure for either year. $79.8 Billion in 2004 = $89.9 Bn. today. Tack on population growth, and all of sudden you don’t so much have a spending cap as much as a huge shortfall that you’ve just expanded.
Even if you toss in her 1% productivity factor for a couple of years, that is reducing spending by 1% every year to achieve the same goals, you still don’t get anywhere close to where we need to be. Furthermore, the productivity factor just doesn’t really apply very well to government. Sure, you could place that onus on state workers, but the percentage of the state budget that goes to state workers is less than a quarter of the budget. It’s really hard to apply a “productivity factor” to many, if not most, of the state services.
This is just one more example of a wannabe governor that just doesn’t understand the depth of our problems. Or the need for real revenue solutions.