Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway has an answer to just about any question directly relating to our budget crisis. “No.” No revenues. No vote of the people. No Republican budget proposal. No closing corporate tax loopholes. No spending cuts. No, No, No, No, No.
Conway explained her caucus’ flurry on “No’s” to the LA Times recently:
The reality of it is, if we put up a ‘budget’ of our own it will get picked apart, criticized.
That may be a good answer for a politician. But it’s the last thing we need to hear from a public servant.
Poor Conway says she might get “criticized.” But isn’t that part of the job when you’re working in the public arena? You put your ideas out there, you speak your values, some may agree with you, some may not. That’s the point of public discourse.
Conway doesn’t respect the public enough to engage in that discourse. Because she knows the math doesn’t add up.
There is no way to prevent cuts to education, public safety, and programs for the vulnerable from cuts without maintaining our current revenues. Conway flat-out lies to the public when she claims that there is some magical solution to the budget crisis involving the elimination “waste, fraud and abuse” or attacking public workers pensions. No one who has looked at the budget deficit objectively agrees. If we fail to extend existing taxes, our schools and universities get cut. It’s that simple.
The truth is, benefits for poor families, health care for the working poor and home care services for the disabled and the aged have already been decimated with over $11 billion in cuts made this year alone. Further cuts not only put families on the streets, those cuts would also lead to the loss of billions of federal matching dollars. This is the classic pennywise, pound foolish scenario. Or billions of pennies given up for tons of idiot pounds.
Making the shortfall worse, Conway and her big corporation-loving allies won’t give up costly and ineffective big business tax giveaways. Enterprise Zones have been proven to create no net jobs, instead cannibalizing jobs from one area of the state to another. Costing taxpayers nearly a billion dollars, Republicans have been defending them to the cliff of fiscal failure.
Allowing companies to elect how they want to pay state taxes is another terrible plan, again defended by Conway and her caucus.
Conway isn’t willing to extend existing taxes. She won’t let the people vote. She won’t issue her own proposal. She didn’t even vote for the governor’s spending cuts.
Is this political cowardice? Childishness? Incompetence? All of the above? If all Conway and her hardline Republican colleagues want to offer to the budget crisis is the word “No,” I guess that’s their business. But we shouldn’t be paying legislators to say “No,” we should be paying them to do their job by working together to prevent devastating cuts to schools, public safety and other important services that serve the public.
We pay elected officials to make tough choices. Conway has shown she’s unwilling or unable to make the choices that will move our state forward. Here’s a “No” that Conway should have to hear from taxpayers if she continues to obstruct solutions to our state budget crisis: No paycheck for politicians who don’t do their jobs.