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Ray Haynes

Mr. Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website at California Assembly]

Tax Deceits
Budget-speak is budget deceit.
by Ray Haynes 5/16/03

I have to admit it took me five years on the budget committee to really understand the budget process. One of the key reasons for this extended learning period was budget language. It was a little like going to see a foreign movie that doesn’t have subtitles. You think you know what’s going on but you miss some major plot lines along the way. You see, those in government responsible for formulating the budget don’t speak English. Yes, I agree that the noises that come out of their mouth sound like English, but the true meanings do not coincide with words found in any dictionary. The purpose of budget-speak is budget deceit. They want you to think they mean one thing, when they really mean another.

For instance—when a normal person says they “cut something” out of their budget, they mean they reduced or eliminated it. In budget-speak, it means they didn’t get what they wanted. Gray Davis recently announced he “cut” 10,000 jobs out of state government last year. But if you look at the numbers, the state had 322,227 approved state positions last year, and 327,554 this year. Next year, they anticipate having 325,134. Now—I’m no math genius, but 3000 more jobs is not equal to 10,000 fewer jobs, even in the new, new, new math. They are equal, however, in budget-speak. It works like this, they wanted 13,000 more jobs, they only got 3,000, so they “cut” 10,000 jobs.

With that in mind, it is important to understand the language of the budget wonks, so you can understand what their words mean:

(1) Tax cuts—they don’t exist. In budget-speak it is called an increase in government spending. If they have it and have to give it back, it is an ‘expenditure.’ This type of ‘expenditure’ must be absolutely controlled. If you read their press releases, you know people die when such expenditures are undertaken, so these reductions must be avoided at all costs.

(2) Spending Increases—these do not exist either. In budget-speak, they are program expansions, eligibility expansions, or necessary expansions because of the expanded workloads.

(3) Program Needs—Once a government program is created, it has needs: needs for money, needs for employees, needs for clients to use the program to justify the expenditure. These needs grow every year, regardless of the effectiveness of the program. Any proposed reduction in spending for a program is met with horror and outrage, because once again people will die if you cut it.

(4) Essential Government Services—Anything that the government decided to do that you must pay for. For instance, if some politician decides you may be evil because you own a business making a profit. He puts in a law to monitor or restrict your evil deeds (making a profit), and requires you to get a government permit to continue performing those evil deeds (thus making less profit). The granting of that permit is a government service which costs you money and requires a bureaucracy, which must be fed with revenue enhancements.

(5) Spending Reductions—these can never happen. This is a violation of the first commandment of government. Children, old people, young people, middle class families, women and minorities die when any government spending is actually reduced.

(6) Tax Revenue—every dollar you earn at your job. If the government does not take that dollar as revenue, and lets you keep it, it is called a tax expenditure.

(7) Tax Expenditure—see tax cut.

(8) Baseline Budget—everything the government got from you last year, plus the new spending it wants from you this year. Anything less than that is a ‘cut.’

(9) Revenue Enhancement—the most beautiful words in budget-speak. The more of your money that they can take, the better. That is why they like these words so much.

(10) Program Requirements—everything the government did last year, plus everything it wants to do next year (see program needs and baseline budget). If an agency designed to serve the needy is running out of needy persons to serve, more money for marketing to find new needy persons will become a program requirement.

(11) Spending Caps—can never happen (see spending reductions). People die from these too.

(12) Truth in Budgeting—(which would have actually been mandated in my bill AB 318, currently languishing in committee) this can never happen, because if it did, the revolution would start tomorrow. People would see how the politicians have deceived them in Sacramento.

Now that you have this budget-speak – English translator, you can go back to watching the budget show in Sacramento, secure in the knowledge that you know what is really going on.



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