A liberal view on how Rhode Island should approach budgeting

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank in Washington that makes sweet charts, is out with a recent report advising states on how they should approach budgeting in this age of austerity.

The center’s Nicholas Johnson summarized the group’s four main recommendations thusly:

  • Boost revenues and target investments to strengthen the economy.
  • Avoid ineffective strategies and gimmicks that weaken the economy.
  • Improve fiscal management.
  • Protect the purchasing power of struggling families and children.

Not all of the center’s suggestions involve higher taxes and more spending. “States can help avert unaffordable tax cuts or program increases by adopting a ‘pay-as-you-go’ (PAYGO) system that requires policymakers to fully offset the cost of proposed tax cuts or spending increases,” Johnson suggests.

With Rhode Island’s budget permanently out of balance, a five-year PAYGO rule – or some other change to emphasize budgeting over a longer time horizon – might be worth considering. It would also be interesting to see what those with different budget philosophies would propose doing now to permanently balance the budget.

On the other hand hand, some of CBPP’s ideas have already been considered and rejected here: There seems to be little appetite among legislative leaders for changing the income tax again to target high-earners. Combined reporting flopped last year. Amazon.com cut off its affiliates rather than pay sales taxes here.

For a different emphasis, try “Tools for Better Budgets” by Josh Barro (now at Forbes).

9 thoughts on “A liberal view on how Rhode Island should approach budgeting

  1. This sounds a lot like Steve Martin’s comedy routine:

    “How to be rich… and not pay taxes”!!

    “How to be rich… and not pay taxes” (spoken more softly in the act)

    “First,…get a million dollars”.

    “Then when the tax man comes, just say… I forgot”.

    (comedy routine from Steve Martin).

  2. Amazon.com cut off its affiliates rather than pay sales taxes here. The “rich” will leave asap if they hike taxes on them to support Dems out of control spending. The same thing Amazon.com did.

  3. I am not rich, however; I don’t believe in continuing using the approach of, taxing the wealthy, as an escape into thinking that will balance the budget and raise more revenue. There is not enough of wealthy people in the US to fix everything and it is a bandaide approach… No amount of taxes can help what big government has created. Smaller government is the approach…. Maybe a little higher tax rate should be considered, however; they have also worked very hard to become wealthy. Maybe some, it was family businesses that were handed down, but they still must be maintained to bring in their revenue and they do employ people. Stop being jealous of what wealthy people have accomplished. It is so sad that the lower and middle class people cannot see what is being created in this country. We are heading toward socialism. Government telling us what to do, how to spend our money that we work for…. They want us to depend on them…. Guess what, it didn’t work in other countries and you ended up with a dictator. So, if this continues you will no longer have the freedoms that America was founded on. Wake up people!!! Stop the taxing, shrink the government… People should be taking care of themselves… poor or not… Too many are taking advantage of the system. Lets create jobs and put everyone to work. You will always have organizations that will help those who just can’t help themselves and many, especially the wealthy who donate to them. Don’t count on the government to take care of you!!!

  4. Smaller government? As usual, good sound-bite but what does this really

    mean? No public higher education? (URI already own to 8% state support) Reduce repairs of roads, bridges? No transit? No health care for the poor, let them die? No checks on pollution? Reduce medicare or social security? Cut defense? No scientific research? No state parks or beaches (pay provate owners instead to enter?) Reduce attempt to enforce fire codes, food safety? Cose libraries? Close fire stations? Let many ACI prisoners out?

    All these things are alreadyundefunded thanks to the lack of community responsibility and selfishness of the anti-tax zealots.

    • Good try Barry, no sale. The bigger government gets, the more taxes go up, the more ratholes politicians find to throw the money into and the infrastructure will still not be supported and then they’ll just come back to us time and time again for more money. Time to stop the tax and spend gravy train.

    • Barry,

      When you call a plumber to change a faucet, you expect every plumber will be charging around the same amount to do the same job. If they don’t you send them packing.

      In RI, we spend more on just about everything and get poorer results than just about everyone. That is what needs to be fixed.

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