Friday, April 27, 2007

Springtime = budget media metaphor overload

Springtime in Tennessee always brings media reports of city and county officials "wrestling" with "looming" deficits or "fighting" to keep budgets in balance.

These reports almost always leave the impression that local elected officials are absolutely helpless in the face of inevitable growth of spending and the working assumption is that current tax rates, whatever they may be, will "never keep up" with the "crushing" demands of government.

Any references to "growth" are almost always related to the growth in spending, not the growth in tax revenue. In fact, there is usually a complete lack of any historical data that would show taxpayers how much revenue has grown over time. The working assumption regarding growth is that spending always grows faster than revenue so growth must inevitably equal tax hikes.

We elect people to make hard decisions about limited resources.