The Budget Before the Vetoes

Last week, we took a final vote on our 2010-2011 state general fund budget. Over the past two years, we have slashed spending from nearly $7 billion to less than $5 billion – a nearly 30 percent cut in the size of government. We have not voted for any general tax increases and did not raise fees this year.  We did everything we can to fund what we believe are the “core functions” of government: education, law enforcement, and healthcare.

Is the budget perfect? No. There are still some items I disagree with, and I hope the governor will veto so we can take an up-or-down vote on the veto.

Here are a few facts about the budget over the last two years:

  • Defeated more than $7 BILLION in tax increases: The Democrats proposed more than $7 billion in tax increases during the year, including raising the sales tax, putting school property taxes back on homes, and putting a tax on the groceries you buy. All of these Democrat tax proposals would kill job creation and strangle our economic recovery when we need jobs the most.
  • No fee increases: This year, the House Republicans held the line on no fee increases.
  • No teacher layoffs: The state budget does not lay off teachers, despite the doom-and-gloom predictions from the school districts. We gave school districts unprecedented flexibility in how they spend their state money and added a requirement that a larger percentage of money be spent in the classroom. If any teachers lose their jobs, that is the decision of local administrators and school boards who have decided to lay off teachers rather than streamline administrators.
  • Reduce entitlements: The House Republicans voted last month to slash entitlement programs in order to fund our police and courts.

I, and many of my conservative colleagues, are upset about a few pork projects re-inserted into the budget by the Senate. But, as I wrote earlier, I trust the governor will veto this pork and my colleagues will sustain the vetoes.

The bottom line? This is a conservative budget that has slashed state government to a size that is smaller than it was 10 years ago.

Throughout the year, Democrats have repeatedly voted to grow government and stifle our economic recovery during this process. Republicans voted to reduce entitlements to promote public safety.  Republicans defeated Democrat tax increases that total more than $4,500 per household in our state. Republicans forced state bureaucrats to take a new critical eye to their budgets next year.

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Tommy Stringer