Friday, June 18, 2010

Appalling Budget Decisions in Missouri

I just read a news article in the Examiner by Kelly Evenson titled Governor Announces More Budget Cuts for State.  Basically it offered a breakdown of an additional $301.4 million in budget cuts for the state of Missouri, which included cuts in the areas of health care, education and school transportation, complete elimination of the KCATA budget, and "major cuts to the Missouri Departments of Health and Senior Services, including a 10-percent cut to Area Agencies on Aging and to Mental Health."

The truly sickening part came next, however, as the article stated, "These new budget cuts follow an announcement by Nixon that he is considering calling a special legislative session this summer to consider two proposals that would expand spending on tax incentives for Ford Motor Company by $15 million per year for 10 years as well as pay for this increase through significant cuts to retirement benefits for state employees."

This should incite outrage among Missouri taxpayers.  When did it become standard business practices for cities and states to fork over millions in taxpayer dollars to invite multimillion dollar corporations to build (or keep) their factories nearby?  I know that TIF financing and various incentives exist, and I understand the rationale behind wanting a large employer to set up shop in your jurisdiction.  I also understand U.S. employees' fears of more and more jobs being outsourced overseas.  That does not mean that taxpayers should be complacent and blindly accept the situation.  With any business, there is a certain amount of risk inherent in setting up shop, and long-term capital investment may be necessary.  This does not necessarily guarantee a quick return or profit to the company.  In Latin America, historically U.S. multinationals have invested huge amounts, sometimes with minimal concessions on the part of those countries.  In fact, in many cases the companies also had to build roads, schools, housing for employees, and invest in creating the infrastructure necessary for the facility to function. 

Why, then, do local, county, and state governments here in the U.S. believe that we have to fork over millions in incentives to attract those companies or entice them to stay?  Why should the already-suffering taxpayers bear the brunt of huge budget cuts during this shaky economic recovery?  Why should state employees bear the burden of "significant cuts" to their retirement benefits in order to hand money over to a corporation that is clearly not in any economic distress? 

In essence, Missouri governor Jay Nixon's budget decisions would be similar to the U.S. government agreeing to pay all the costs of cleanup of the BP oil disaster, and then asking the American public to increase taxes to pay BP for the inconvenience of having its rig explode and buying them a new one!  Someone needs to wake up and pay attention here!!!  Missouri representatives and senators (and taxpayers) need to examine the issue carefully and act in the best interests of the PEOPLE of Missouri, and not follow blithely along because "this is the way it has always been done."