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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Politicizing a spreadsheet formula

Plenty has been written about the Gov's veto of the 2007 tax bill, but I still have to weigh in on the inflation factor controversy.

1. First of all, it defies any measure of common sense to apply inflation to only the revenue side. That conceit is so intellectually dishonest, I don't even know what to say.

2. Minnesota is one of two states that insists on this particular brand of dishonest math in creating forecasts for state government.

3. This practice only dates back to 2002 in Minnesota. When Pawlenty and Sviggum crow about balancing the budget without raising taxes during the 2003 session, you have to realize that 'balancing' was partly accomplished with the help of some accounting hocus-pocus. Timing shifts, use of one-time money for ongoing programs, dishonest expense forecasting, etc. etc. all played a role.

4. The biggest lie being spread is that applying an inflation factor in a forecast spreadsheet puts government on 'autopilot'

These forecasts do not translate to actual appropriation and tax bills. The forecast information does provide a context in which a future budget is developed, but agreeing on actual spending plans still requires the painstaking work of legislating.

The state GOP continues to maintain relevance based on the flimsiest of stories, and I'm getting tired of all of it.


lloydletta said...

Excellent post.