“If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” Of course these lyrics are about New York City, but no matter. If a serious blueprint for budget reform can be written there, it can be written here too.
The Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon and Josh Barro have put together a report titled “Blueprint for a Better Budget: A Plan of Action for New York State.” It’s worth perusing by good government starved Illinoisans.
The North Country Gazette described it this way:
“A comprehensive strategy for addressing New York State’s fiscal crisis, including a 30-point plan to save the state up to $30 billion over three years…
[The report] says the governor and state lawmakers should couple state budget cuts with mandate relief and other reforms, which will help local governments cope with lower state aid and reduce their costs. Under one of the report’s key proposals, the Legislature would formally declare a financial emergency and freeze all public-sector wages and salaries for a three-year period.”
Yep – even public school teachers’ wages – can you believe the audacity?!
Here’s the introduction:
- “This document represents an effort to develop a fiscally practical, comprehensive approach to putting New York State’s budgetary house in order.
- It explains why and how the state developed such massive budget deficits.
- It identifies programmatic changes to begin closing the gaps and to put the State’s finances on a more stable footing.
- It explains how privatization and competitive contracting can help produce more efficient and affordable public services.
- It proposes structural reforms to improve the state budget process and to reduce costs at every level of government in New York.
- Finally, it outlines tax policy goals to promote renewed economic growth.”
The Overview begins – “New York State is broke.” Well, Illinois is too. And one of the state’s biggest yearly bloated expenditures is the over-generous support for a K-12 school system that doesn’t deliver the value students, parents, and taxpayers deserve.
Education spending in New York State and in Illinois has been increasing at an unaffordable rate for two decades. The Empire Center’s Blueprint isn’t shy about broaching the topic of education spending cutbacks (and neither should Illinois Republicans):
“There is simply no way to balance New York’s budget on a long-term basis without first halting and partially reversing the state’s school spending binge. There are two sides to the Blueprint school aid proposal-financial restraint and essential reforms…
[T]axpayers should be protected and school officials should be given tools to cope with austerity. To that end, school aid restraint should be statutorily hard-wired to the following reforms…”
Note a few of the proposed reforms:
- Enact a school property tax cap…
- Freeze teacher salaries for three years.
- Repeal Taylor Law provisions that give teacher unions excessive financial leverage in dealings with school boards…
- Raise or eliminate the charter school cap to continue broadening educational choice…
- Enact contracting reforms that can significantly reduce capital construction costs.
Being honest about the Illinois public schools would be a good way for Republican politicians to begin the new year and the new decade. They should “make a brand new start of it – here in old Illinois.”