Priorities for the budget

One of the common observations is that the public wants government to cut spending but not to cut any programs or services. The RGJ story on Washoe County highlights this conundrum.

In a survey of 600 county residents released this week, residents rated
Child Protective Services as the highest priority for the county. That
was followed by prosecuting criminals and running the jail and courts.
The lowest-rated services were animal control, communications with
citizens and technology.

The problem is that 70% of the budget it tied up in employee, retiree, and health costs. The problem trying to reduce that part of the budget is illustrated by the spokesman for the sheriff’s supervisors association.

Keller said the public is becoming comfortable in “demonizing public
employees because the media is too lazy to go after the banks that
created this nightmare.“We are the ones who are important in keeping civil order,” she said. “We run into bullets, not away.”

The budget runs to about $300M per year for the county. Revenues are down more than 10%. But the children must be saved and we cannot ask for more sacrifice from those dedicated civil servants who “run into bullets” for us.

In this light, one wonders about parents who do not take care of their children and a law  authority that takes a dim view of citizen self defense.

The “four prong strategy” approved by the county commissioners only provides lip service to outsourcing and reductions in services. The concern is that expenses will continue to grow faster than income. The only way that is going to be solved is by reducing the scope of government, or at least its growth. That gets back to the public and the poll presented does not bode well for future fiscal sanity.

The budget problem faced by the politicians goes very much beyond anything in their purview. Will the people step up?

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