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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Budget unreality: Spending without looking

The Union Leader editorial page looks at how the House and Senate set budget priorities, and is not impressed:
Last Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee passed a budget that could be balanced only with the addition of new revenues. Its members also increased taxes and fees, but replaced the revenue generated by the House's not-yet-existent new taxes with revenue generated by not-yet-existent slot-machine casinos.

Each of these budgets is based upon the Dan Eaton Principle. During the House budget debate, Republicans objected to the leadership's plan to pass a spending bill first, then go for the tax hikes needed to pay for it. They said, reasonably, that the state should budget like families do, by first determining how much money is available, then deciding how to allocate it. House Majority Leader Eaton rebuffed the criticisim with an aphorism: "It makes sense to know how much you're spending before you decide how much money to raise."

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