Special Session “Relief”

I am off to the annual SPN meeting and won’t be blogging for a few days. But before I leave I wanted to write a few thoughts about the special session. The details of the upcoming special session are still pretty sketchy. It is being cast by the governor as “relief” for high-energy prices. You have already heard from me on the counterproductive proposal regarding “gouging.” So how about the “relief?”
For the most part it constitutes increased spending on welfare. Most of the tax rebate “relief” and all of the low-income “relief” will go to residents who do not pay taxes. I have already cast doubt on the effectiveness of the state’s welfare programs. The mishmash allows politicians and “advocates” to take credit for individual programs (such as low-income housing energy assistance) while they ignore the big picture. Oh, well.
The state should give relief to all; and it should get its explosive spending under control. One really helpful way to do that in the special session: Reduce the statewide gross receipts tax rate by one percentage point (from 5% to 4%); and pledge to keep spending under control. The real tax reduction would provide proportionately more help for the poor while boosting the economy. There is plenty of revenue surplus right now to do it.