Despite whatever the Governor and Speaker think, we aren't going to and can't cut ourselves out of this budget mess. We're only going to need to cut more and more and more. Where does it end?
A small increase to the state's income tax, say .3%, would not only be unnoticeable to the average taxpayer over the course of an entire year, but would end this state's fiscal crisis. Our tax burden, as a state, is below the national average in a state that is one of the most expensive places to live in. Either we have to become a crappy state, which will make us poorer in the long run, or we have to suck it up and contribute just a little more to our state's finances.
There's around 6.4 million people living in this state and the average taxpayer earns around $42k. Raising taxes by .3% would bring in about $900 million dollars. That, alone, would nearly solve our budget gap for this year and maybe the next. Couple that with reducing the cost of health care and not only would our structural deficit finally end, but we could start to think about working on all the projects we've been neglecting in this state for decades - the kind of economic stimulus that could not only help in a desperate economy, but help the parts of the state that never felt the boom years to begin with.
[Note - I missed a decimal point in my original math. It is now fixed. I made some changes to the blog to account for a smaller pool of funds. But my general point remains: we can't just cut ourselves out of this mess - it's going to take a varied approach, finding funding efficiencies, like in health care or regionalization, as well as raising revenue.]