Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Plugging the Budget Holes...

With recent news of the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, otherwise known as the stimulus bill, the budget situation is quickly changing in our state.

Many of the dollars coming in have strings attached, where certain dollar amounts have specific sectors where the money is required to be spent. Here is a brief overview of some of the different areas where our stimulus check will be required to be spent, click here. Areas where money will be directed include water and highway infrastructure development and many various areas of temporary assistance.

In light of this, the Argus Leader reports that our state budget situation is looking a little brighter. Many of the cuts to state programs Governor Rounds proposed will not necessarily have to happen. Read more here…

Although it is great that the stimulus is allowing us to keep some good state programs, it is uncertain how much of a “stimulating” effect this will have on our economy. Using stimulus money to plug budget shortfalls might save some jobs associated with those programs, but it certainly isn’t creating any new ones the best I can see. Furthermore, where will this put our structural deficit in 2011? $100,000,000 or $150,000,000? If we do not get ‘projected’ sales tax revenue increases to ‘bridge’ to, we will be left with a much larger hole than we saw this legislative session. What is our plan or strategy to boost sales tax? Is this a bridge to nowhere?

It is time to prioritize our needs and pay for what we can within our means. Budgeting for outcomes through the use of benchmarks and performance measurements are essential tools and need to be used.

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