County Executive Chris Collins released his proposed 2010 budget last week, and the Answer Lady posted a picture of its cover:
Collins utilizes some stimulus funding to keep spending essentially the same, and maintaining the same tax rate; tax receipts are expected to rise thanks to reassessments. In addition, Collins has been quick to jettison work that the county is not somehow mandated to do. Responsibility for WIC was transferred to Catholic Charities. Now, Collins is planning to shunt responsibility for day care registration for the working poor to some other charity, and county health clinics are to be run by Sheehan. All of the actual money spent on these programs is reimbursed by the federal government, except for pensions and other legacy costs for the county employees who administer them. That is the net savings.
With that, Collins and his political ally, the beleaguered semi-competent Sheriff, have plans to build a multimillion dollar lockup, which would not require them to provide dreaded toiletries to inmates, thus showing those pesky librul bureaucrats at the Justice Department.
Priorities – jails over health clinics. Lockups over day cares. That’s how Collins prioritizes spending money. I think that the role of government is a bit more involved than administering Medicaid and other mandates, and jailing people. But I’m one of those bleeding heart commieHitlers.
And what’s the real benefit here? Spending goes down for legacy costs for these programs, but it doesn’t go down overall. Collins finds places to spend the money. And taxes don’t go down – they technically stay exactly the same. Savings with no savings. That doesn’t seem to me to be how businesses get run.
But Collins is playing to his base – fed-up suburbanites. They love to hear that the poors are losing their welfare queen benefits like health clinics and day care. Collins doesn’t have to compete for city votes, because that’s not his constituency – not by a long shot.
Set aside for a moment that the Collins crew of legislative candidates have willingly and knowingly accepted the endorsement of a group of people who hold some very questionable beliefs. We’ve been over that. How about the fact that these guys are all bleating on about diminishing the size of government, yet the 2010 budget won’t really do that. Collins has had the opportunity to diminish the size of government since 2008 and he hasn’t done it. He tried to raise taxes, he exploded the effort to downsize the legislature, he’s eliminated a few services that are crucial to the survival of the county’s working poor, but taxes stay the same and so does spending.
The Answer Lady concludes that, as far as Chris Collins is concerned, Buffalo isn’t in Erie County. Collins’ cuts may adversely affect city poors, but gosh darn it, he’s running a business here!
All, told this (along with dumping the City parks back on Buffalo) accounts for about 258 positions out of about 4600. (That’s a 5% reduction, mostly from part time parks workers) Brag about it as if it actually means something.
What’s important, OTOH, is that the County eliminate actual welfare for people who need it, but increase the welfare handout to the Buffalo Bills by 15%. Smaller government! Kids and women: go find a church to help with your WIC. Millionaire sports outfit: is there anything else we can do for you?
Meanwhile, the Buffalo News praises all this as being somehow brilliant, despite the fact that its own editorial states:
The budget proposal, now in the hands of the County Legislature, keeps spending virtually in check, increasing by only 0.2 percent. And it maintains the tax rate steady at this year’s $5.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Actual tax collections are expected to rise by 4 percent because of higher assessments and new construction.
Status fucking quo. Spending stays the same. It stays the same.
The cover of that budget book might as well look like this: