Unfortunately, the interview footage WWAY shot this afternoon wasn't included here last time I checked, but Jason and I seem to be in agreement that there is spending in the budget that could be cut, and increasing sales and/or property taxes is not a necessity.
Where Jason and I appear to differ, if my understanding is correct, is I have advocated cuts to non-essential program spending based on priorities, not equal proportional cuts across the board without prioritizing (a few specifics were discussed during my filmed interview), which won't make me popular with some and those interest groups wont vote for me or give money to my campaign. However, I believe it is more important that our elected officials prioritize needs, and budget accordingly, whereas Jason's plan seems to favor "fairness" irregardless of the merits and necessity of a program.
Promoting a budget that takes an equal proportion from every discretionary line item is a good way to try and please everyone and avoid having to make hard decisions - decisions that are likely cost votes on election day. Taking an equal proportion from every program in the name of "fairness" might be a way to avoid losing votes from any interest group, but that is not how I approach budgeting with the taxpayer's money (and it is the taxpayer's money, our elected officials would never spend their own money the way they spend taxpayers' money).
Establishing priorities, and budgeting to address priorities in order of importance, better serves most taxpayers. However, this priority-based budgeting approach typically requires making some tough decisions risking the loss of votes (politicians prefer to avoid making these decisions or position statements that might cost them votes... and find it's easier to raise everyone's taxes in small annual increments than it is to adjust spending patterns, and evaluate program merits weighing the costs against the results of each line item, to determine whether taxpayer's are actually getting the intended results).
Prioritizing and adequately funding vital "needs" is my preferred approach, and honestly, because of the current shortfall in revenues, that does mean having to make some deeper cuts in non-essential programs (which tend to greatly benefit small groups who will write checks for and vote for candidates that protect their allotment of tax dollars). This is where Jason and I appear to differ, although we probably agree that every department and line item should be evaluated to identify any and all efficiencies and cost-cutting measures that would have minimal impact on performance or quality of service.
I believe the County's highest priorities should be adequately funded and not subject to reduced resources, in the name of "fairness," in other words, to prevent deeper cuts in less vital programs and projects. That approach advocated by Jason, to cut all programs equally, if my understanding is correct, doesn't bother to set priorities, or even take into account the need for or performance of a program.
Elected officials should have the courage to prioritize needs, and budget accordingly, and end the vicious cycle of tax-and-spend-and tax more, which is slowly squeezing families, retirees, small businesses, in other words, many of us citizens.
I will tell you honestly that I cannot and would not support reducing resources for law enforcement to be "fair" to airlie gardens or cape fear museum or the "Committee of 100" knowing that the County has a growing crime and gang epidemic (which has been neglected too long and must be dealt with, "fairness" and personal vote-seeking be damned).
I support funding schools based on the merits and justifications of requested funding, without making reductions for no purpose other than to be ""fair" to the Cameron Art Museum or a County department with some less essential line items requested, and that means I dont get elected, I'm willing to take that risk because its the right approach to the current budget crisis.
I dont support raising taxes either, especially now when so many people and families are struggling, and I know that will result in those who support taxpayer subsidization of Cameron Art Museum, Airlie gardens, and other niceties to stroke checks and vote for other candidates who would raise taxes or use the "fairness" approach to continue the spending of taxpayer dollars on those line items.
However, we should remember that low taxes attract new businesses to an area more than any other factor, and also benefit existing businesses, especially small businesses, creating an environment for job creation. And spurring private sector job growth is a priority of mine but politicians rarely mention jobs when they're selling voters on the "need" to raise taxes.
Well, we don't need to raise taxes, and though cutting spending on non-essential, low priority line items might seem harsh, I have faith in the ingenuity and civic-mindedness of people and think spending reductions resulting from the budget shortfall would actually make some entities currently subsidized by tax dollars stronger, more valuable and better-off overall in the long-run than they are now.
Instead of being "fair" let's fix what's broken, eliminate that which is unfixable or unecessary, and compel our local government to live within the means of the people, and compensate for any reductions in funding with old-fashioned human innovation.
The budget shortfall was preventable, many of my fellow fiscal conservatives warned this would be the eventual result in the absence of changing the County and City government's budget practices (taxes, fees, spending, etc...), but the same politicans and status quo supporters remain in power.
I do not support this status quo, and the fairness approach appears to be a reflection of the same fiscal philosophy. I see an opportunity to improve, fundamentally, the way New Hanover County government budgets, that's my position, that fiscal conservatism is needed, not vote buying, and hopefully enough people now agree its time for that change and will vote for a change...a real change.
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