It’s typical teenage behavior to run up a credit card bill and hope that someone else (like a parent or a sibling) will foot the bill. At a certain point, we tell teenagers that they need to grow up and assume responsibility for their own finances. It’s time that we tell our governments the same thing. State and local governments need to stop waiting for their “big brother” (the federal government) to foot the bill and start adjusting expenditures in response to our current economic crisis.
The economic consequences of this pandemic will be substantial, and huge budget and revenue hits will likely have a long-lasting impact. We need to right-size government spending before we put ourselves in a detrimental position.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of asking for more money instead of adapting to new circumstances. However, if a financially responsible adult takes a pay cut, he adjusts his lifestyle to fit his new income. He skips a vacation or cuts back on frivolous spending to make sure he has enough to pay for the important things, like shelter and food. We need our state and local governments to start acting with this kind of financial responsibility; debt and handouts mortgage our future.
Times of crisis present lawmakers with opportunities to reconsider priorities and take action. To be fair, the state has already taken some steps to cut spending, but more will need to be done. Perhaps it’s time to cut the often-wasted spending associated with unfair economic development handouts like tax-increment financing and other tax subsidies. Or perhaps the solution lies with cutting costs in other sectors.
Whatever the answer, the point is that finding opportunities to trim the fat in the budget is an urgent priority right now.