Thursday, January 09, 2003

And now, via Charles Kuffner, a little news from Texas, where the Republicans are confronting a budget that's completely out of whack, and hilarity ensues:

I'm not sure what "pushed back major payments for Medicaid and Medicare" means, but it sure sounds to me like the kind of accounting tricks where you charge something to one year's budget instead of another's. If so, what difference does this make? It was an obligation, and one way or another it had to be paid.

Indeed, as Paul Krugman reminds us, that sort of trickery has been a feature of the Texas state budgeting process for quite some time now. But, as Krugman also notes, it made a difference when it was done: the guy who was governor then could appear to have the state in good financial health despite his aggressive tax cuts --- a matter of no small import to him, as he was seeking higher office (which he eventually got, though it's a matter of some debate whether he earned it).

But the Texas Lege has to deal with the consequences now. Why? Because the state constitution requires a balanced budget; when the bills are dated, they must be paid.

Which is one problem that no longer bedevils that former governor. Where he is now, he has a bigger budget and bigger tax cuts to fudge, and no nasty balanced-budget requirement, so he can let the bills pile up for quite some time. Mind you, the consequences of that are already starting to be felt. But all he has to do is cover that with a little flim-flam. The guy may not be comfortable with numbers, but he's comfortable with that...


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home