Media accounts discussing the soon-to-be signed FY 2009-10 budget describe it as a $19 billion spending bill. Indeed, the budget bill and money report both list “General Fund Appropriations” as $19.008 billion for FY 2009-10.
But alas, this is government – so there is more to the story. Digging through the document you will find many of the listed “cuts” are actually not cuts at all. They are dollars that will still be spent, just spent by money from the federal government. A perfect example can be found on page F1 of the “money report”. It lists a $380 million cut to “Noninstructional Support Personnel” for 09-10. But in reality, the $380 million is not cut at all, it will actually be ” offset by the appropriation of the federal Education Stabilization Fund (ESF).”
So funding levels for this line item will continue as planned, it will just come from the federal government instead. But this is listed in the budget as a spending “cut.” Many more of these “cuts – but not really” are included in the budget. Most are listed like the education example, while some others are spending allotments coming from federal receipts, but not included in the actual spending totals.
Civitas analysis identified $1.85 billion of such fantom cuts and spending for FY 2009-10. This would bring actual spending to $20.86 billion – up by half a billion over actual 2008-09 expenditures. Keep this in mind when you hear news accounts of the “draconian cuts” and how a billion dollar tax hike was needed to “protect the classroom.”
If Gov. Purdue and others in Raleigh were really interested in transparency, the least they could do is be honest about how much they are actually spending.
Also note that a $20.86 budget would mark a rise in state spending by 31% over the last five years. For more detailed analysis of the budget bill, see here.