09/19/09 — No more taxes: Governments better get it now: the trough is about to run dry

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No more taxes: Governments better get it now: the trough is about to run dry

It could be even worse next year.

That's the message school officials said they received when they started to talk about money, teachers and what to expect when it comes time to talk about school funding again.

And that observation alone should send shivers down the spines of anyone who will be staring down the barrel of a new tax bill this coming year.

It seems that there are a few people in the state and federal governments who do not get that there are only so many times the taxpayers can pay the bills, and that many of us have about as many expenses as we can stand.

If the money available this year could not sustain school programs and basic state services, which forced a couple significant tax increases, what is going to happen next year?

If officials at either the state or federal government levels think they are going to be able to go to the taxpayers again -- they are sorely mistaken.

The cuts that were made in this state's schools this year were significant -- as were those made in many other state departments.

And some of that is positive -- cutting back the budget forced a lot of people to really weigh what they need to run the government and the schools and to cut back any of the excess.

But most of the cutbacks in education were made at the classroom level. Wayne County was lucky enough to have had a number of retirees whose jobs were not replaced. But that makes you wonder what sacrifices had to be made to the quality of education.

"Oooo, pity party," you might say. After all, thousands of North Carolina residents are dealing with unemployment, bankruptcy, cutbacks and every other wonderful side effect of a stalling economy. Why shouldn't schools feel the same pinch?

And making sure our schools are run efficiently is important. There is nothing wrong with insisting taxpayer funds are used with a budget in mind.

But you cannot have it both ways.

If our goal is to make sure that as many children as possible graduate from North Carolina schools, we have to have the staff in place to give those children the attention and instruction they need to make that goal a reality.

This year's hit was bad enough. Who knows what kind of consequences another round of cuts could cause.

So just assuming we can tap that resource again for budget cuts could have a lasting impact on the state's goal of having a state education system that is rated among the nation's best.

So listen up statehouse and governor's office, here's the message you should keep in mind as you wonder about next year. The well is dry. Set your priorities, decide where the money should be spent and then create a budget with that goal in mind.

The North Carolina taxpayers' bank is closed.

Published in Editorials on September 19, 2009 11:47 PM