February 10, 2017 8:30 AM
Attention 3110 Maple Drive Northeast: Consider this remedial reading.
The Pew Charitable Trust has released an analysis of states’ revenues since the trough of the great recession. They concluded what we already know, and have analyzed here, here, here, and here, among other places. Georgia’s revenues remain below where they were before we went into recession when adjusted for inflation.
It’s fine to grouse that we’re spending more money than ever, if you want to be lazy and uninformed. It’s also a grossly incomplete statement that makes it an act of willful ignorance.
Despite spending less money now after adjusting for inflation, let’s talk about what we’re doing now with roughly the same money that we didn’t have 10 years ago:
- We have a rainy day fund with over $2 Billion cash on hand to cushion any future downfalls. Governor Deal took office with less than 3 days operating cash on hand – AND we had to take $2 Billion in federal money to get us through the worst of times.
- We’ve added about $1 Billion per year in annual dedicated transportation infrastructure spending. About half of this amount of money came from existing revenue streams or cutting tax credits. Less than half was the change in our gas tax.
- We’ve added 50% more Georgians to our Medicaid rolls, this despite Georgia not being a state that chose to expand Medicaid.
- We’ve added almost 1 Million more Georgians as the state’s population has grown.
We’re generating slightly less money than we were before the recession. We have 10% more people splitting that pie, disproportionately more using state Medicaid dollars, getting more road maintenance and improvements, and have money in the bank.
Thus, instead of openly wondering why our conservative leaders aren’t budgeting like conservatives, it’s probably better to actually thank Governor Deal, Speaker Ralston, Lt. Governor Cagle, and specifically Budget Chairmen Representative Terry England and Senator Jack Hill for figuring out how to balance a budget while doing more with less. Cause that’s exactly what we’ve been doing, and the Pew Trust numbers verify that.