Friday, April 24, 2009

Furloughs: Don't think of it as a pay cut - it's a tax cut!

The Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, Mike O'Neal, decided to take a run at earning the most despicable person on the planet award. He must have read my blog this morning, seen that I declared the winner to be Dick Cheney, and gotten jealous. Well, Mr. Speaker, you have certainly staked your claim to the title today.

The Kansas budget for fy 2010 does not look good. Current budget shortfall estimates are in the $328 million range. Mr. Speaker announced today that he would consider a furlough plan for state employees before any other options, including revenue increases. Which is just a nice, fancy way of saying he'd much rather give state employees a pay cut before even considering any tax increase of any kind.

You can call it whatever euphemism you want, but it's a pay cut. Of course, it doesn't do anything to cut the work load, so an awful lot of already over-worked state employees would just be expected to do all the same work and provide all the same services, but for less pay. I've also seen rumblings that more costs of employee benefits might be passed off to employees, which also translates into a pay cut. Did I mention that Kansas state employee benefits rank dead last in the country? Out of 50 states, we come in 50th in the benefits we provide our state employees, so definitely, we should cut them back even further.

If you're not from Kansas, you might be wondering how exactly we got into this budget pickle we're in. You might be thinking this is just part of this whole, crazy, nationwide economic meltdown. But that's not quite it. Our budget collapse goes back much further than that. From 1995-2005, our Republican-led legislature went on a tax-cutting frenzy. In that decade, businesses have received an estimated $6.7 billion in tax cuts. They've also had their unemployment compensation contributions reduced by $6.1 billion. Now, again, I'm no math expert, but I'm pretty sure $328 million is just a fraction of $6.7 BILLION. So you've given away billions of dollars of state revenue in that decade and now that the state is practically bankrupt as a result (continually cutting off your sources of revenue will eventually lead to you running out of money, after all), you want the state's employees to pay the bill for your reckless, decade-long tax-cutting spree.

Yep. Rather than roll back any of those tax cuts to businesses, or reinstate some business taxes that have been entirely repealed, Mr. Speaker would much rather close the budget gap by taking more money away from the already woefully underpaid state employees. Gotta love those family values. Business before people.

At least if I'm making less money, I won't have to pay quite as much in income taxes.

Ok, so it's still not quite Dick Cheney bad, but I will declare Mr. Speaker O'Neal to be the most despicable person in Kansas.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Rat bastards.

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