Friday, May 02, 2008

Aftermath of Florida Amendment 1: We're not even seeing the worst of it yet

So far, the only response I've gotten on this blog has been my post about the Florida Amendment One proposal at the beginning of this year. Mainly, I was against it, as it 1) it wasn't going to be the answer to people's problems with their homes not selling and their mortgages getting tighter; and 2) it wasn't going to solve the revenue problems the state was facing, simply because by cutting back on the taxes that generate the revenue Florida statewide services (schools, libraries, police, fire emergency, child care, road care, health care, all care) needed it was going to cut services at the worst possible time.

The amendment happened because politicians fell in love with tax-cutting. Tax cutting made them look like they were being fiscally responsible. Tax cutting made them popular with people who kept thinking "Oh, I don't wanna pay taxes, why worry about road repairs and law enforcement and fire/emergency response times?" And because if they didn't keep pursuing tax cuts bullies like the Club For Growth Greed were going to hound them out of office.

But the problem is, tax cuts can only go so far: we're at the point now where the state can't generate any more revenue. And Florida, which relies on tourist sales taxation, millage taxation, and very little else for state revenue, is still facing a year of fewer homes owned and fewer tourists traveling (notice the cost of gas recently?). And the Florida state budget is starting to reflect the last few years of decreasing revenue.

We now have in the news that school districts are facing severe cuts to where they are laying off teachers and closing schools. Teachers that are remaining are facing a 2 percent salary cut in some districts: they are already one of the lowest-paid employees in the public sector anywhere, in a state that's routinely at the bottom of the list when it comes to education spending. Counties are looking at 15 percent cuts across the board at various service offices, with the sheriff's looking at 10 percent cuts. And do you want to know the worst part about all this?

We're not seeing the worst of it yet.

The whole nation is, let's admit it, in a recession: jobs are down, the dollar is weak and shrinking on the global market, oil and food (!!!) prices are going up on a global scale, you name it. What will happen is that more and more people are going to demand more and more help from one of the cornerstones of society, the one stable force in an unstable world. The government. BUT THERE WILL BE NO GOVERNMENT TO HELP THEM. The money's drying up, gone, we're losing it just as people are going to be needing government services to get food on their tables, to deal with health care, for city and suburban infrastructure, help to find jobs, help to keep their kids in schools and off the streets, pretty much help that they expect from an institution that's supposed to promote the general welfare of the people.

This is what constant tax cutting gets you: a government unable to help when it's needed most. We didn't need tax cuts: WE NEEDED FAIR TAXES. And we're still waiting for that.