Governor Sanford had his “State of the State” address last night. While I didn’t get a chance to watch it live, The State has a transcript up for us to9 read and analyze.
A common theme among conservatives is that government is wasteful. While that’s true in a sense, it isn’t helpful. Alternative systems for providing services that the government does are also wasteful – perhaps even more so than the comparable government system. (Consider the cost of our health care system compared to most other industrialized nations with various forms of “government” health care…) Governor Sanford suggests that …
[…] every one of us tied to government can follow the lead of working South Carolinians in being creative in finding ways to do more with less. Whether in Dillon or Grey Court or Yemassee, doing more with less is what families across our state are indeed doing everyday – and those of us who work in government should find ways to honor these daily decisions being made by the people who pay for government.
It’s as if he doesn’t recognize that most of us state workers have been asked to do “more with less” for quite some time now. As my three loyal readers know, I’ve worked as an instructor at one of our technical schools for nearly a decade. I’ve watched enrollment increase as state funding stagnates. Faculty workloads have increased because of all these new students, while at the same time money for salary increases to merely keep up with inflation and money for needed upgrades and maintenance to classrooms and labs has disappeared.
On a personal note, when I decided to introduce a digital blackboard to my classes – to make note-taking and interactive problem solving easier for my students – the money for the device came out of my own salary. “Doing more with less”, indeed.
How about the governor and legislature figuring out how to make sure state services are adequately funded during times of economic stress. In other words, a way to keep state services operational when these services are needed most. Helpful hint: The solution probably doesn’t involve this:
The second leg of what we have proposed to stimulate the economy is a flat tax of 3.65 percent in one’s individual income tax return.
To pay for this part of the tax cut, we would raise our lowest in the nation cigarette tax from seven cents to 37 cents.
Jacking up the cigarette tax and using the money to prop up another tax cut strikes me as counterproductive at best. Increases in the cigarette tax should be used for funding to help keep people off of cigarettes in the first place. Subsidizing cigarette taxes for income tax is otherwise simply a way of taxing the poor, who are more likely to smoke and less likely to be able to quit.*** And aside from the regressive nature of this kind of tax, haven’t we already seen the dangers of substituting a stable tax for an unstable one?
*** The linked article is from the UK, but it likely holds up here, too.