Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What is a "revenue need"? 

I get a note this AM from our faculty union, alerting me to a letter in today's RedStarTribune.

I am one Minnesotan who is very tired of our Legislature and governor continually using phony, shaky and unfair means to balance the budget.

Accounting shifts, indiscriminate application of higher fees, shifting property taxes and excessive increases in college tuition have formed the backbone of past efforts to secure sufficient funds to balance the budget. This year the governor has added gambling schemes. None of these regressive solutions meets the long-term revenue needs of the state.

This is utterly silly. There's nothing phony about higher fees, as they generate real dollars. So too do increases in college tuition at public universities, where subsidies constitute a middle class welfare program. And both of these are voluntary decisions -- you do not have to use the parks if the fee is too high, and you don't have to go to college. In that sense, the word "regressive" makes no sense, as it applies only to government confiscation of resources, not a voluntary transaction. The same applies to gambling, though the decision to exploit the risk-taking and short-sighted behavior that can account for poverty in some strikes me as cynical and of questionable morality.

But what exactly does one mean by a long-term revenue need? What is it that the government needs to do, in this person's view? Well, you should have a hint from the first line of this post, in that the faculty union sent this.
The elephant in the room is the governor's pledge not to raise taxes. Either the governor has to agree to alter his position or the Legislature has to assert its appropriate authority to protect the future of Minnesota by seeking a genuinely balanced and bipartisan approach that includes both spending cuts and tax increases.

The writer, not revealed by the newspaper (did he sign it as a private citizen?) is a member of the union's governmental relations committee. Don't you think the readers of the RST would have a better understanding of the letter if this was revealed?

A long-term revenue need is an increase in his salary.