Balancing Budgets On Spending Cuts Alone…Jefferson County Alabama To Test That Theory October 2, 2011Posted by gesvol in Current Events, Politics.
Tags: Alabama, Budget, County commission, Jefferson County, no tax increases, spending cuts
Advocates for smaller federal government often argue that local governments should serve as “laboratories of democracy” to experiment with policy, with the best policies being adopted by everyone else. Well a favorite tea party policy is about to become an experiment right here in my home Jefferson County. We are going to see what happens when you eliminate a massive deficit with spending cuts alone, no revenue increases.
Jefferson County has already made a whopping $134 million cut into a budget that was $312 million last year (that’s 43%, and we are talking real cuts, not cuts off some baseline) but still needs to make $40 million more to balance the budget. This is because a major tax the county had was ruled unconstitutional, our antiquated state constitution doesn’t allow the county to replace it, the county has ran out of revenue stop-gap measures, and it is also required by law to balance the budget. So it has no choice but to do it all with spending cuts.
Right now, I think a lot of the public here is all for this. But it will be interesting to see how folks feel once it is put into practice. For instance, senior citizen services will be cut from $12 million to $4 million. The sheriff’s department is going to cut by $7 million, forcing it to lay off a hundred deputies. The budget for bridge maintenance is going from $2.9 million to an almost comical $345,000 (funny until the bridge you are crossing falls down!). But I suppose old people, crime protection, and having sturdy bridges are all vastly overrated!
Actually on second thought, the county is pretty much divided between poor city folks and rich suburb folks. The poor tends to take the brunt of it when it comes to cuts. But the folks with the actual influence probably won’t notice much. And these folks didn’t leave the city just to have to turn around and share their resources with the people that they just left. Still, when all is said and done, we are talking about a 56% cut in the budget. It’s hard to imagine that won’t be felt a little by everyone.