Monday, June 07, 2004

Your Tax Dollars

Bill Hobbs links to a great editorial from Tim Chavez of Nashville's The Tennessean. Chavez tells you the truth about the "thrifty" Bredesen administration and your State government. By the way, if you haven't been keeping up with Hobbs' reporting on the budget and revenue situation in Nashville, you haven't been getting the real story.

I haven't blogged on this subject much at all for a while, which I regret. This year, the State of Tennessee is running a tax revenue surplus estimated to top $300 million. The may numbers are due any day now, and should be even more astonishing.

Remember all the howls of outrage and prophecies of doom over the the sales tax increase they enacted a couple of years ago? Has the Legislature moved to reduce the 1 cent increase in the sales tax? They have not. Has the money been rebated? Nope. Some of it is going into the rainy day fund, some is being divvied up by the various departments, the rest is going to "discretionary" spending.

Have the "revenue sharing" funds from the State to the Counties been reinstated after Bredesen kept them last year to make his 9% "cuts" possible? They have not. Shelby County lost out on, if I recall correctly, $17 million. We could have used that this year, couldn't we. And those funds won't be returned next year either.

That raises a related issue. If the State is flush with money again, why weren't the lobbyists that Shelby County pays good money for able to get it back? Why didn't the Municipal League lobbyists, also paid for by City and County governments, get it? What good are these expensive folks if they can't do the most basic job of getting a slice of all the good times in Nashville.

And then locally comes word of a discovery of 12 million "extra" dollars in the building-permit fee fund.
Eight years' worth of excess revenues from Memphis and Shelby County construction permit fees, which have quietly built up to a hefty $12 million, may finally be put to some use.

County commissioners are poised to approve an ordinance today enabling the city and county to use the funds to set up a more structured commercial demolition program. Officials hope it will help erase blight and spur redevelopment in area neighborhoods....

The money would also fund the $2.3 million operating budget of the city-county Division of Planning and Development, and a portion would later be designated for residential demolition.

The program, among other things, is scheduled to help tear down the old Baptist Hospital on Union to make way for a biomedical research park....
The Federal govenment is already providing matching funds, how convenient. The downtown gets the big helping hand once again. The article mentions that this money has been the subject of debate and wrangling for months now. Did you read about that yet? Me neither.

It's all a massive con on you the taxpayer. How many other funds and accounts do you think are sitting quietly out there, carefully being divided up in non-public discussions or in un-reported meetings. Government has much more money than it needs to do the real job of their constitutional duties. It's all the nespotism, despotism, good-ole-boy network, taking care of your cronies, handouts that drain your pocket book and wallet.

Do the newspapers take your -- the taxpayer's -- side in this? They do not. They are aligned with other interests that depend on the government to give them money for various needs and agendas. Imagine if you came across a newspaper story like this.
Taxpayers fed up with state spending, By Bill Balance

The possibility of higher taxes for education and day care has many taxpayers upset.

"Federal spending alone costs the average Arizona family $20,000 per year," said Steve Sanchez, the owner of a landscape company in Gilbert. "With state and local spending thrown in, I'm working four months of the year for the government."

Joan O'Brien of Scottsdale had similar sentiments. "I'm fed up with the public education establishment repeating the canard that Arizona ranks low in per-pupil spending. The fact is, we rank near the middle, and the average household pays about $190,000 in public education taxes over the lifetimes of the heads of the household."

"Half of my income already goes to the government," lamented Craig Cantoni of Scottsdale, "and the majority of that goes to other people and special-interest groups in the form of entitlements and subsidies. The Democrats talk about fairness, but they refuse to say how much more my wife and I should pay to achieve their utopian view of fairness." Cantoni went on to describe how his poor immigrant grandparents could afford to send their kids to parochial school, because tax rates in the early 20th century were only about a third of today's rates.
You'd fall out, wouldn't you?

So would I. I'm just glad I'm not holding my breath. The government might tax me.

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