"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Don't Worry about what the Legislature would do with Money from Higher Taxes. DESE, Governor Nixon and the State Board are Spending Money the State Doesn't Have Now.

The following was posted on HotAir's Green Room, written by Patrick Ishamel from the Show-Me Institute regarding a St.  Louis Post Dispatch editorial.  The Post Dispatch contends Missouri needs more money (tax increases) for government programs; Ishmael argues the expansion of government programs stifles the free market.  Ishmael believes it would be a nightmare if the Legislature had $4 Billion at its disposal to institute more governmental spending.  

Regarding education in Missouri (and other states), the outrage of the Institute should include concern about the incredible spending of money the state doesn't have for educational mandates that are unconstitutional, unproven, untested and underfunded.  It's  concerning to realize DESE, Governor Nixon and the State Board of Education have already signed us onto to at least $350,000,000 (or more) in unfunded mandates via Common Core standards via the Pioneer Institute study and a $1.6 BILLION early childhood program with Race to the Top type mandates. 

Perhaps the Show-Me Institute should do a study on the debt and mandates these agencies and politicians have signed taxpayers into funding without legislative approval.  Maybe there should be a followup article by the Post Dispatch entitled "Imagine (or, just sit back and watch it happening in real time) how much debt the governor, DESE and the State Board of Education can rack up with nary a legislative vote.

The legislature has become impotent. It cannot (or will not) stop the actions by governmental agencies, politicians and appointed officials which create more taxpayer debt.  This is evidenced in what has occurred in the signing onto RTTT (or RTTT like mandates), Common Core, and Early Childhood mandates.  It doesn't matter if citizens are taxed an additional $4 Billion; our agencies are instituting  programs (without tax increases) Missouri or the Federal government cannot possibly fund.   The state bill for education alone is approaching an unfunded $2 Billion. 

How's that for a nightmare?


The Post-Dispatch’s $4 Billion Tax Hike

Missouri’s major dailies have had quite a run over the past few days. Last week, the Kansas City Star told readers that the state’s governor needed “to promote reasonable revenue-enhancing measures” — taxes — and put more money toward state programs. The notion of “government investment” features prominently in the piece, as increasingly has become the case when “revenue-enhancing measures” are suggested, post-Stimulus. What the editorial board doesn’t say is that the city’s own local taxes are already among the highest in the region.
Stratospheric municipal taxes overlayed with an even higher state tax burden? This won’t turn out well.
But yesterday the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Star‘s cross-state peer, spectacularly one-upped the KC paper. Missouri lawmakers are constrained by law in how much they can tax and spend each year and are billions below the statutory limit. How much of that difference would the Post-Dispatch like to spend?
A lot of folks purchased Mega Millions lottery tickets last week dreaming about what they could do with $640 million. Imagine what $4 billion would do for Missouri.
Let’s be clear: That’s a radical tax hike proposal, tucked into what is otherwise an uninspired editorial about state and local governing responsibilities. Combined state and local tax rates have stayed roughly the same for decades in Missouri, but the Post-Dispatch would have those rates hurdle skyward to provide more public services and somehow, some way, improve the economy above the status quo.

Even the suggestion that raising taxes and spending would help the state makes no sense by the newspaper’s own standards. State and local tax rates have actually increased slightly since 1980, the apparent “good ol’ days” implied by the editorial, from 8.6% then to 9% today. The newspaper can’t even claim that plummeting tax burdens are why Missouri is suffering economically, since by its own metric, taxes have actually increased over the last 30 years.

The proposal is mostly academic here in Missouri, as taxpayers and policy makers in the state would blanche at the thought of such a hike, but that doesn’t mean the suggestion isn’t troubling. If implemented, the plan would have awful real-world implications — giving families less to spend and taking capital out of the market for use in less productive government programs. It’s a roadmap to ruin, and yet the Post-Dispatch apparently doesn’t see it.

“Imagine what $4 billion would do for Missouri”? No, imagine if legislators took their cues from Missouri’s newspapers. What a nightmare that would be.

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