Budget: Charleston politicians still spending too much

When was the last time an ordinary citizen had a check returned for insufficient funds, then had the bank quietly say “Just kidding, we’ll let you slide on a little of that?” The answer, of course, is that does not happen. But the folks in Charleston do not have to live like the rest of us do, here in the real world.

Remember that big presentation check dramatically stamped “Returned: Non-Sufficient Funds,” used by state lawmakers to mock the governor’s budget proposals and lend some color to their announcement that they would be making the difficult decisions needed to keep the state spending within its means?

What happened to that hold-the-line budget Republican legislators proposed just a few weeks ago?

At that time, some GOP lawmakers were talking about a $4.05 billion budget. That was the same amount the Justice administration projects the state will receive in revenue next year. The $4.05 billion plan would have required no new taxes.

This week, however, the House was looking at a $4.27 billion budget — with about $158 million in higher taxes.

The proposal is higher than the $4.187 billion budget for the current year — and because of midyear cuts, actual spending will be less than that.

Total general revenue spending this year, taking midyear cuts into account, is likely to be around $4 billion. That means the House budget is $270 million more than this year’s spending. That is not exactly holding the line.

But even with more money for next year — surprise! — the bureaucrats are complaining about spending “cuts.”

So it goes as it has always gone, in Charleston. And, as always, it will be those ordinary citizens who pay.

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