Comment on the day: Spending “out of control”?

Actually from Friday, from NoPolitician:

Skyrocketing spending? (6.00 / 6)

Baker says “state spending has skyrocketed”.

I could be wrong, but I checked the state budgets online. The first Patrick budget went up from Romney's last budget, but the next two decreased.

These are the numbers I found:

FY2005: $22.2bn (Romney)
FY2006: $24.3bn (Romney)
FY2007: $26.2bn (Romney)
FY2008: $28.1bn (Patrick)
FY2009: $27.7bn (Patrick)
FY2010: $27.0bn (Patrick, projected)

Am I wrong? Am I missing something?

How can Baker claim that spending has “skyrocketed”?

That's a claim that needs to be put to bed fast. The Herald has been advancing this hollow claim that Patrick has hired thousands of workers. In reality, he has filled positions as they became vacant. Yet people believe that Patrick created thousands of new positions. It fits their meme. 

And let's remember what happened in the two years of FY2007 and 2008: Health care reform, which, yes, cost money — and which people supported by and large, both then and now. If Baker has credible, humane ideas for how to control health care spending– and he well may! — let's hear them. If he opposes covering people, then he should say so.

And ya know, if that's what one defines as “one-party profligacy” — a health care bill signed by a GOP governor and supported by our GOP Senator-elect … well, I think that needs to be re-examined.

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15 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Skyrocketing spending?

    The economy was expanding under Governor Romney and is contracting under Governor Patrick (neither governor should get credit for the overall health of the economy).  Governor Patrick should have matched expenditures with state income, he did not instead  he increased spending,  requiring a tax increase.

    ECON 101 - you don't increase taxes in a recession.

    No private business (other than auction houses) are expanding at this point, most of the private sector has wage and price freezes and most private companies have had a decline in sales.  The state government barreled on blindly as if nothing was happening and keep spending.

    If the state had made cuts early  we wouldn't be in the situation we are now cutting both  superfluous and needed services.

    • Ugh

      This has to be about the lamest attempt to portray the Patrick administration as some crazy tax and spend liberals. The state barreled on spending? Take away Medicaid/MassHealth, pensions and GIC and you're looking at a budget that has barely kept pace with inflation since 2001. Now, you might want to blame the Governor for not tackling pensions immediately upon entering office, but it's not as though he has failed to push for reform. All of the above, combined with debt service, are obligations that you have to fund. Add to that Chapter 70 (running slightly above CPI since 2001), which is operationally close to an obligation and there is very little room to cut.

      The stark reality is that virtually no state had built up adequate stabilization funds to weather this particular storm. Could we have not dipped into the stabilization fund so quickly and for so much? Perhaps, but that is a fundamentally different argument.

      Also? You can't really be serious about the econ101 argument, can you? So many factors come into play with respect to taxation, like elasticities, tax incidence, etc. that no rational person would ever make such an elementary argument and expect to be taken seriously.

    • Erm, that's not ECON 101

      Econ 101 about increasing taxes in a recession assumes that deficit spending is permissible; that is, Econ 101 says to hold (or cut) taxes but to increase spending.  The state isn't allowed to run a debt, so your Econ 101 doesn't apply.

      The rest of your post makes little sense as well.  First you write that "neither governor should get credit for the overall health of the economy" but then you claim that had Patrick "made cuts early we wouldn't be in the situation we are now," suggesting very directly that the governor should get blame for the overall health of the economy.

      Which is it?  Even if the government had been cut 10%, that's still only $2.7bn divided by 6 million people -- $450 for every man, woman, and child.  That sure as hell wouldn't have been enough pocket money to get out of the recession, but a 10% cut would have devastated social service budgets.


    • Skipped class?

      Apparently you missed a few of your Econ 101 classes:

      No private business (other than auction houses) are expanding at this point, most of the private sector has wage and price freezes and most private companies have had a decline in sales.

      Yes, exactly. That's why someone has to fill the gap, or else you'll see a economic death spiral as the further lack of economic confidence leads to further economic contraction. If private spending has contracted, government spending is the best and most efficient way to ensure economic stability.

      I'm with you on not raising taxes during this recession, which would be unnecessary if Washington provided another round of stimulus money to the states. But since Republicans currently have a 41 member filibuster bloc in the Senate, this isn't likely to happen.


      • You decrease taxes in a recession because businesses "can't afford them
      • You decrease taxes in a boom because "the government doesn't need them."
      • You cut spending in a recession because "the government can't afford it."
      • You cut spending in a boom time because "the economy doesn't need it.
      • Government is bad.
      • Corporate greed, unrestrained by regulation or public interest, is good.

      The desired effect is to "starve the beast" — under this plan, effective government dies so that the "free market" can do whatever it likes.

      We've tried this several times in American history. It didn't work in the 18th century when it was enshrined in the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. It didn't work in the 19th century when it resulted in "The Gilded Age". It didn't work in the 20th century when it resulted in the Great Depression. It didn't work in the 21st century when it resulted in the Great Recession.

      In Massachusetts, it has brought us crumbling highways and bridges, unsafe public transportation (that's the NTSB assessment, not mine), massive unemployment, a health care system in collapse, and a public education system in relentless decline.

      Yet some of us want to keep doing it.

      Unless you are already wealthy (in which case, it is effective way to suck the masses dry), it doesn't work. Period.

      • You've got to ask yourself why

        Brookline Tom, you post that in


        "Massachusetts, it has brought us crumbling highways and bridges, unsafe public transportation (that's the NTSB assessment, not mine), massive unemployment, a health care system in collapse, and a public education system in relentless decline"

        Over the past 50 years in Massachsetts:

        We have had Republicans and Democrats in the governor's office for equal amounts of time.

        We have had an overwhelming mojority of Democrats in our congressional delegation.

        Democrats have had a virtual monopoly on the state legislature.

        Did the bridges and public transportation system only degrade when Repulicans held the corner office? How about public education, did that only decline when Republicans held the governor's office? Frankly I didn't notice that the health care system was in collapse, but taking it at face value, was it the mean Republican governors who caused it?

        The problems, real or imagined in Massachsetts, can not possibly be attributed to anyone other than those in power. To deny that Democrats have wielded the lion's share of power in Massachusetts over the past 50 years is to deny reality.

        The first step to solving a problem is to admit you have one.  

        • The economics are the same whatever the party designation

          Republicanomics began in 1980 with Prop 2 1/2 and Barbara Anderson (spurred by California's Prop 13).

          The failed anti-tax starve-the-beast approach to government is the same, whatever the proclaimed party affiliation of the practitioner. This is the economic "policy" proclaimed as gospel by the GOP since 1980, and continuing today.

          The disastrous decision to foist big-dig debt overruns on the MBTA and simultaneously demand "forward funding" — explicitly intended to "starve the beast" — was proposed by Republican Paul Cellucci and abetted by DINO Tom Finneran. The similarly disastrous decision to essentially halt maintenance of the Massachusetts highway system was the price all of us paid for the failed tax-cutting since then.

          The fact that several generations of state legislators ran as Democrats to ensure election and re-election does not negate the reality that this catastrophically wrong economic philosophy has been the centerpiece of GOP ideology since 1980.

          It is exemplified in the current campaigns of Scott Brown, the teabaggers, and (sadly) all current Republican candidates.

        • Fair question

          But starving infrastructure became widespread in tUSA begining maybe in the 70s but moreso in the 80s.  Why?  Stuff build at the beginning of the 20th century either failed quickly or lasted a long time... until about now.  Stuff built nearer WWII was more cheaply made, and is failing... about now.  There wasn't much preventative maintenance to be done until fairly recently, and now it's all failing at about the same time.  Not doing enough maintenance then (as well as land use policies that increased vehicle miles traveled) put us in this hole.

          Most of that stuff is executive branch.  I'd bet in other states, that means that Dem governors are at fault... but in this state, much of that blame really does lie squarely at the GOP governors.

          That written, there is indeed plenty of blame to go around -- right now, it's the legislature who doesn't have the courage to point out that we've got to fix and expand rail while fixing our roads -- and that the current gasoline tax isn't enough to do it.

    • when to raise a tax?

      Can't raise it when things are going well. That's wasteful.

      Can't raise it when things are going poorly. We can't afford it.

      Can't raise it when things are okay. It could start a recession.

      I can handle stupid statements in comments on BMG (I actually took ECON 101 -- did you?), but I at least expect commenters to read the freaking diary. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts did not barrel "on blindly as if nothing was happening." You could not be more wrong. We cut to the damn bone and held spending in line with 2006, despite massive inflation to health care expenses, which takes up a giant percent of this state's budget.


  2. out of control hiring?

    I saw Dan Winslow, Romney's general counsel, and by the way, the counsel for Brown's recent campaign, on TV last week trying to find fault with Patrick for not having a hiring freeze last year. First of all, never ever during the Weld, Celluci Romney and Baker days was there ever a real hiring freeze. They certainly centralized hiring decisions into A&F and made agencies justify the need. Nurses, correction officers and others were approved for hiring during the fiscal down times under the Republicans. The only difference between Patrick and and Romney on hiring is that Patrick decentralized some hiring decisions, rather then having A&F bean counters pretend to understand the on-the-ground needs of state agencies.

    Whatever little hiring has occured under patrick has mostly been the converting of jobs with out benefits to regular state positions. Romney Baker et. al. tried to hide their hiring by putting staff in "consultant jobs" that did not pay benefits. These staff often do not show up on FTE counts. However, when the health care law passed it became hypocritical for the state not to provide health benefits to some of its own staff. So, Patrick did the right thing and converted many of the consultants to regular state positions that provide health benefits. Leave it to Baker et al. to find fault with state government for trying to live up to the health care law that they expect private sector employers to follow.

  3. agaibn I think we are missing the point

    Baker says governor increased spending.  We say but if you take out...  People will still hear that the governor increased spending regardless of what we say unless we can unequivocally say that he did not raise spending, which I don't think we can say.

    Tie Charlie Baker to the big dig fiasco and to whatever improprieties are associated with him during the Romney administration.  let him try to nuance his way out of that.  I see no gain from trying to refute things that are not absolutely refutable.

    So he says the governor increased spending.  We say the governor increased spending in education, job creation, etc.  Own it and clarify and move on.

    I feel so strongly that if we don't communicate clearly and succinctly, we will lose this upcoming election.

    The voters think the economy sucks, then it sucks and then address how you are specifically going to handle it.  Do not go on about all the reasons it does not really suck.

    • Spending declined

      If my numbers are right -- and believe me, there are a lot of numbers on the state's budget site, so don't take me 100% -- spending decreased for 2 of Patrick's 3 budgets.

      Sure, some of that was due to 9C cuts, when Baker says that Patrick increased spending, he is lying, or at best, being creative with his words.

      Patrick can't let those kinds of lies go on long. I can't tell you how many people I've heard reference the "Patrick hired thousands of workers" meme that has been printed in the Herald and parroted on Howie Carr.

      Get the facts out there. The campaign should arm us with a set of facts to refute those claims whenever they are made.  

      • The numbers in the original post don't support your argument

        I agree with Rhonda: 9C this and "excluding that" and "pension payments are mandated" convince pretty much 0% of the electorate that is convince-able. The way to win is to accept that taxes and spending have increased under Patrick and explain why that is a good thing, to the extent that can be done, and, similarly, explain why spending under Baker was a bad thing and would be worse if he gets elected.

        Both Baker and Patrick have spent money. He wasted it on the Big Dig. Patrick spent it on investments that helped give us the second-highest per capita income in the country and an unemployment rate below the national average. That's a better argument than trying to claim that spending declined.

        • Why don't the numbers support it?

          I used "expended" amounts from the link I provided above for FY05 to FY09 (FY10 isn't finished yet). I'm pretty sure they are accurate. The amount the state spent for FY2008 went up from the last Romney year, but the amount the state spent in FY2009 went down, and the FY2010 is projected to be lower than FY09. This is spending -- spending declined.

          So the simple message is that under Romney, the state spending increased four straight years, but under Patrick state spending declined for the past two (or maybe three, since his budget will be released during the campaign) years.

          That completely refutes Baker's "under Patrick, spending has skyrocketed" claim. It neuters their main angle of attack.

          If Baker wants to dissect and wordsmith things (like by claiming that spending is higher today than it was 4 years ago), then point out that Romney increased spending by, say $6 billion over 3 years while Patrick increased spending by less than a billion over 3 years.

          We know how they will attack Patrick. They have been lying for almost four years. We need to pre-empt those attacks now.  

    • It would take a Coakley-esque campaign

      to lost this one.

      "Charlie Baker who runs the company that denied cancer treatment to your grandmother."  Easy.

      sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM

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