Pledges an extra $1 billion for Education
Carter's education and no-taxes pledge doesn't add up, by Kyle WingfieldCall it the gnome theory of campaign promises: 1. Spend $1 billion more on education. 2. ?? 3. Balance budget without raising taxes.
I refer of course to the pledge by Jason Carter, the Democratic candidate for governor, to increase spending on k-12 education by $1 billion without raising taxes. He has no list of cuts he’d make to offset that spending. He’s merely said there’s a “giant amount of waste” out there, and somebody should figure out where it is.
His opponent, Gov. Nathan Deal, responded with a list of 70 state departments, agencies and offices that would have to be completely eliminated to hit $1 billion.
Rather than list them all, and with some modifications to Deal's list, let’s look first at what wouldn’t be eliminated. Some assumptions: Given the way Carter has also talked about pre-K and college, we’ll assume no education cuts at all. He also wants to expand Medicaid, so let’s guess health spending is off the table. The state also spent another $960 million on debt service, the vast majority for bonds issued in the past, so take that out.
Setting those figures aside from this year’s $18.3 billion general-fund budget leaves Carter $3.5 billion worth of spending — 19 percent of the total — in which to find his cuts. (State revenue growth the past few years has mostly gone to pay for higher enrollments in schools and Medicaid.)
He can’t very well shut down the prisons. Assuming he sees the need for prosecutors and courts as well, we’re down to $1.6 billion to find the cuts.
The $600 million left to play with is enough to keep the Departments of Human Services and Revenue; the Legislature and governor’s office, though not all gubernatorial programs; the ethics commission (Carter surely wouldn’t cut that); and … well … even some of those bureaus would have to be cut.
That’d be it. Unless most state agencies took 60 percent cuts, your entire Georgia government would comprise education, health care, criminal justice, tax collection and some children’s and elder services.
No Agriculture, Economic Development, Labor, Transportation or Veterans Service departments. No auditors, regulators for banks or utilities, or drivers license offices. Just to name a few.
The point isn’t that a Gov. Carter would actually try to close down that many state offices and services. He surely would not. But these examples illustrate the scope of this extremely vague promise he keeps making while taking on a lot of other budgetary constraints.
In a budget that allocates more than half the state’s general revenues to education -- and with tax hikes supposedly off the table -- schools must feel some of the pain when cuts are necessary. Given the way spending outside the classroom grew in the two decades before the Great Recession, forcing school districts to economize probably wasn’t a bad thing.
If Carter thinks otherwise, and if he doesn’t want voters to assume he would break that no-taxes pledge, he might want to complete that review before Election Day.
Source:http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/kyle-wingfield/2014/aug/21/carters-education-and-no-taxes-pledge-doesnt-add/ Posted: 9:57 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014