The budget for '09, which started last October 1st, is only $196 million short at this point. Yes, that seems like a lot to you, but in the big picture of the state budget and the coming deficit of $1.6 billion for '10, cuts in other areas for now are preferable to taking away money from the schools, yes? Of course. The governor took school cuts off the table for this year, with a caveat...
"For this year, we are not going to pro-rate K-12," the governor said during a late morning news conference. "But all bets are off for next year."
And Marsden freaks. Totally freaks.
Matt Marsden, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, countered that "it's outlandish" to suggest there may not have to be budget cuts this year.
"The legislature will hold education harmless if possible, but we have to be careful of taking anything off the table," Marsden said.
"We can't let the stimulus package distract us from fixing our structural problem. We should be taking steps right now to begin scaling back and righting this ship."
Marsden added that "the governor is not in a position to take anything off the table." Lawmakers will work with her governor in balancing the budget, as is required by the state constitution, he said.
"The governor is not starting the conversation off on a good tone," he said.
No one mentioned the stimulus package. No one mentioned the "structural problem". We aren't talking about those things yet - but Senate Republicans once again tip their hand as to how this is going to go down this year: wild accusations as to motive, over-reaction about "tone" on the simplest of statements, and general crying and flailing about like a child told they would have to finish their vegetables before they get their desert.
The governor's radio address last week acknowledges that the stimulus is not the be-all, end-all answer to our budget issues. And while new Senate Minority Leader Mike Prusi is making reasonable suggestions about closing loopholes and things of that nature, it is rather curious that Bishop's spokesperson is insisting that cuts to schools should be "on the table" for this minor piece of the current budget shortfall. Say, you guys get around to cutting your own salaries and benefits yet? Didn't think so.
Someone needs to ask the Republicans for a list of their ideas on cuts. Seriously, get them out here. Let's see what their priorities are. As if this over-reaction from Marsden doesn't tell you.