Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Fiscal Sanity

The WSJ reports today that the Cato Institute releases its biennial report on the 50 governors and their ranking for fiscal performance. No surprise that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was graded with a “D”. Both Republican Bob Taft of Ohio and Democrat Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania received an “F”. Both Arnold S. of Ca. and Bill Owens of Colorado received the only two “A’s”. The Democrat governor of New Mexico received a “B” by cutting the top rate on income tax from 8.2% to 5%, reducing the capital gains tax and cutting spending. Presidential hopeful Democrat Mark Warner received a “D” for enacting the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history. Florida Republican Governor Jeb Bush slipped from, and “A” to a “B” after endorsing bloated budgets.

The report states that you can’t tax your way to recovery; the best way out of a deficit is to cut spending. The problem is that almost all politicians know these “golden rules” and promise to follow these rules once elected. Unfortunately, once in office they feel beholden to all the “special interest people” who financed their campaigns and they become “yes” people to a growing avalanche of entitlements. The entitlement people make a good case for spending the taxpayer’s money and the politicians always say “yes”.

With elections coming up here in April, you will probably be wise to determine who is most likely to deny entitlements we can live without and who can determine what the “core” businesses of cities really are while at the same time supporting building the infrastructure that will retain and attract more living wage jobs to this community. Try to sort out who will do the best job of training and holding employable workers instead of creating more welfare and uneducated society dropouts.

As I warned in previous blogs “beware of politicians who have a vision”. Examine what some of these “visions” have already created; One Technology Plaza, The Gateway building (this building takes most of the East Peoria gambling boat money the City of Peoria collects), the vacant Damon’s restaurant building, the Riverplex, the new ballpark, Cub’s Food on Knoxville, (recipient of $5 million plus of taxpayers dollars), TIF districts everywhere including some of the best farmland in the world, and a riverfront that could have been designed more to the communities desires. Remember whose leadership lost Peoria the Paradise.

These “visions” and realities; a $32 million expanded zoo, the new museums, the addition to the Civic Center, a new Park District headquarters building, a new softball complex, completion of the Morton to Dunlap trail, renewed efforts to save the Pere once the Civic Center expansion is completed, the taxpayer dollars that will go into the Med-Tech project, investments that must be made in our local school systems, growing pensions and medical costs for employees of the public sector, plus many “visions” on someone’s drawing board or mind, it is my belief that the wealthy and others who want all these projects, must not only come up with the money to build but the money to maintain. Let the voters decide by binding referendums. Be sure the referendum is properly worded and that all costs including maintenance are explained to the voter.

I do not buy the concept that we “will all benefit” for these enhancements to our community. I buy the concept that many taxpayers will benefit but the majority will not and that there are more big egos in this community than willing taxpayers.

I wrote recently that the die is “already cast”. Those who believe or do not believe that we are not headed into being one of the most enhanced and overtaxed communities in what is often called “the rustbelt”, I welcome you to post your comments on this site.

As a business man for 36 years, a politician for over four years, it is my belief (and the belief of many other) that some community projects must be put on hold. In uncertain financial times, we must invest more in our infrastructures and less in enhancements.

Build it and they will come is not a proven theory!!

I leave you with this thought “the way of our daily lives, lead us to subordinate all values to the struggle for material success”.

1 comment:

Karrie E. Alms said...

Whatever happened to a rainy day fund? What are the current levels of the City of Peoria Reserves? One has only to look at District 150, which when I moved here 10 plus years ago had some money in reserves (millions) which has now evaporated into a gushing of red ink. We must balance vanilla basic city services with development not either to the detriment of the other.

Vote April 5th! Every vote counts.