What are the things we can do without? Can we call them tax cap casualties? We can see what they are. In Woodstock, they are few, because the town board was able to override the cap and thus keep from cutting services that citizens seemed to want to keep…but we saw what was in the cross hairs and was summarily rejected — the Woodstock Emergency Dispatch department.
More pronounced is the effect that the cap will have on Ulster County’s spending, with the Golden Hill Health Care facility on the chopping block and the county’s Consumer Fraud bureau getting the axe (see Page 12). The county will hope to find a buyer for Golden Hill’s license and keep the beds operating here at home, but under private aegis, in some kind of facility with a for-profit motive. All complaints about consumer fraud, of which, in this day and age, there seem to be considerable, will be funneled to the state attorney general’s office in Poughkeepsie, which, short staffed itself, will be dealing with more outraged citizens. So be it. We want government cut, these are the targets.
But as the reality hits, as the public sees where the cuts hit, there may just be to be a tiny bit of movement among the higher reaches for the concept of introducing new revenue into the coffers; of perhaps restoring previous tax rates among those whose wealth would leave them still quite comfortable, of undoing slightly, but not anywhere near completely, the enormous breaks that were handed out to them under the final Clinton years and during the two Bush terms.
Just as was demonstrated the necessity to re-regulate the financial institutions that exhibited such unmitigated lust for lucre during the years of deregulation that the entire economy was trashed, just as the new laws were not to quell capitalism, but to save it, so does the need to reestablish fairness in providing the revenues to keep the services alive that make our society a decent one become apparent.
The next venue we will come upon, the next tussle with the tax cap will be over education, as school districts prepare their budgets. And, as we said last week (even though the editorial contained an unfortunate typo) the tax cap was not created to hold down taxes, it was created to take the entire burden of school funding off of property owners. Thus it becomes incumbent on the state to collect the money for making education work by other means.
Yes, we can agree that there are probably items on which government spends that it shouldn’t, and that close examination should be made of those. But so far, it seems that the targets for cuts are services that we’d prefer to have. The reality of that is hitting home. ++