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Report: State Budget Cuts - Not the Only Option During Recession

April 1, 2010

MIAMI, Fla. - Balancing the state budget in Florida has been a challenge. To do it, Florida, like most other states, has focused on cutting spending. However, according to a new report, alternatives to those cuts would be a better choice to get states started down the long road to economic recovery.

Daniella Levine, president and CEO of the Human Services Coalition, Miami, says legislators need to put politics aside because cutting state spending hurts economic recovery. Instead, she suggests they focus on fine-tuning the tax code so it reflects a progressive structure - meaning those who make the least pay the smallest share and those who make the most pay a larger share to fund critical services.

"We are looking at cutting some of the most basic services - health care and education and senior programs - and what is so worrisome is we are still continuing to reduce taxes for those who are able to pay."

While many would argue against raising taxes in tough economic times, Karen Kraut, director of the Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative, Boston, says the discussion is more complex than that, and legislators need to focus on getting rid of unsound and unfair taxes, too.

"We're also looking at things like closing corporate loopholes and ending tax breaks for businesses that don't produce the jobs that they say they're going to produce."

Levine says the Florida legislature also has the option of ending certain tax breaks, such as exemptions for skyboxes, sports teams and large corporations. The report, issued by the United for a Fair Economy Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative, also suggests tapping into rainy day funds, scrutinizing existing tax breaks and encouraging more federal revenue sharing.

The report's bottom line is that states do have tools available, other than cutting spending, to balance budgets. It is available online at www.faireconomy.org.



Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL