The bad budget news keeps piling up. A $14 billion deficit. Across-the-board cuts to all parts of the state budget.
At some level, the reports that focus on “the state budget” disguise the actual impacts of these cuts with that antiseptic phrase. I once heard that states really only do three things: “educate, medicate, and incarcerate.”
And that’s actually pretty true. Education is close to half the budget; health care and related social services are around a third, and public safety, including corrections, is the next biggest area. The other departments are relatively small in comparison.
I think some of the same people who want to make the “state budget” smaller would be more alarmed about the notion of across-the-board cuts to education, health care, and public safety.
Only if we are clear about the real impact of these cuts is there going to be the possibility and political will to raise revenues and taxes as opposed to make even deeper cuts. That’s the challenge for next year.