Budget cut proposal the right decision

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 8, 2000

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove told many state agency heads Thursday they’ll likely face budget &uot;reductions&uot; this year.

The governor’s request — to reduce spending by as much as $81 million — may be tough for some agencies to face, but, unfortunately, what he had to say was right.

Weak tax collections, which are lower than the state predicted, have forced many of the cuts, which will affect agencies such as public health, human services and corrections. Musgrove said the reductions would begin in November if tax collections do not improve. They would be the first state agency cuts in a decade.

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But Musgrove, who also surprised the Legislative Budget Committee Thursday by presenting his budget proposal for next fiscal year, said several state agencies will be exempt from cuts — including public schools.

That should be welcome news for the state department of education, already facing a $30 million shortfall.

Musgrove also asked legislators to give agency directors flexibility to rearrange their budgets to avoid possible spending reductions.

If tax collections improve, the cuts won’t be necessary. But that scenario seems unlikely, and Musgrove’s decision may prove to be unpopular. But it is the right decision to help the state shore up its finances without cheating citizens of basic needs.

No growth can take place without a solid foundation. And not taking care of the basic needs of a state — good public education and health care, for starters — is like trying to build a house on a foundation of sand instead of rock.

And it just won’t work.