Using a budget crisis to screw the poor…

In Oklahoma, they’re facing a bit of a budget crisis. Instead of acknowledging that oil booms are indeed part of a boom/bust cycle, they decided that while they were riding high, it was a good time to slash a bunch of taxes and make up for it with oil revenue. Guess what? Bust! Now they’re facing a budget shortfall of somewhere near 10% of their 7.1 billion dollar budget. There’s talk of raising the sales tax.

Roughly the same thing happened in Kansas. Although, giving Oklahoma credit, while Oklahoma did it because their tax burden was offset by taxes on the oil boom, Kansas just did it for the hell of it. They just assumed magic would happen. They seemed to have thought jobs and taxes would appear. No such thing happened. A massive budget gap appeared. They raised the sales taxes.

In both states, they slashed education funding. Of course they did. Republicans don’t like to pay for education unless it’s for their own kids at the local level. Basically, they hate poor people. Worse education funding, higher sales taxes (which as we know, hurts the poorest the most), and then on top of it, a stated desire to cut any and all government spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and health care in general.

I’m starting to think the plan goes something like this: 1) intentionally lower taxes so the government can’t possibly pay for the services it promises. 2) Make a big fuss about the crisis and shift as much tax burden to the poor as possible. 3) Cut services as much as possible.

I’ve never heard this strategy explicitly stated, but I’m really starting to get the idea this is the plan from the start.

On a minor note, in the middle of all the budget shuffling, Kansas changed its school funding mechanism. Kansas used to have (and maybe still does) have excellent schools that they were proud to have. They were so intent on good education, in fact, that Kansas has a constitutional amendment that the schools absolutely must receive sufficient funding. Now the new funding  mechanism (block grants) is going through the courts because the poor districts allege that they don’t have nearly enough money per student.

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