Friday, February 11, 2011

Thoughts before the Weekend

Despite my usual snark/ire, I'm actually sympathetic to the plight of our Governor or any Governor in economic times such as these. It's no secret that at the federal level I favor robust stimulus--even at the risk of dreaded INFLAAAAAAAAAAATION--and public sector spending to promote economic growth. At the State level the issue is considerably more restricted in terms of the ability to deficit spend.

And while I have no faith in Paul LePage to do anything even remotely resembling the right thing, I was rather surprised to see that he proposed no cuts to public education, including flat funding for the University of Maine system. Unfortunately, over the long term I am far less sanguine about the Governor, given his stated agenda of consolidating the state university system with the community colleges.

Of course, there are no tax increases in this budget (I would not support raising the income tax, though I can dream of the day it is more progressive and less onerous to the middle class...), so someone must take it in the pooper...and that someone is the state workforce....particularly through their pension system. Current retirees will lose their cost of living increases in the short term, and find them drastically reduced in future years. Meanwhile, LePage has also proposed raising the retirement age from 62 to 65...something I think is categorically idiotic at the moment. If there are merits to raising the retirement age, let it wait until we are not facing catastrophic unemployment. Allowing more people to find the soft landing of retirement would free up jobs and get more capital into the hands of consumers, it seems to me.

All in all, the devil will be in the details....

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