Sen. Charlie Dannelly (D-Mecklenburg) has the dubious distinction of being the primary sponsor of the budget bill for fiscal year 2010-11. Read the bill, SB897, and the money report. For the first time since 2003, the annual budget was passed prior to the start of the fiscal year. Perhaps lawmakers should have been more concerned about correcting some of our long-term fiscal issues and less concerned about getting out of town on time.
Our state is headed towards a $3 billion budget shortfall next year and all the General Assembly did this year was nip around the edges to balance the budget. Our structural budget issues remain. This year’s patchwork budget included over $1 billion in federal stimulus money and relied on temporary sales and income tax increases from last year. Next year, when the temporary taxes sunset (yeah right!) and the federal stimulus dollars disappear, the General Assembly must either get serious and enact sustainable budget reforms or kick the can down the road again with tax increases. This year’s budget bill served as little more than a band-aid.
As though it is not bad enough that our elected leaders refuse to assume accountability and make tough decisions, the budget also adds nearly 900 government jobs in the midst of a revenue shortfall and a recession. Growing government will not help to revive the sluggish economy and serves only to centralize power in Raleigh. The budget allowed for the issuance of more state debt without voter approval and, with the addition of the $1 billion in stimulus dollars, spent $600 million more than last year. Read a more detailed analysis of the budget here.
For not addressing the unsustainable growth in government and refusing to enact necessary and meaningful reform, SB897 is this week’s bad bill of the week.