To cut spending, you cut spending

Sen. Gilbert Baker (R-Conway) appeared on KARN’s “Dave Elswick Show” yesterday in the wake of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee tabling his proposal to cut the used car sales tax. He’s frustrated, so we should all cut him some slack, but he made this comment:

“I do support cutting the spending of this state and there is only one way you do it. You don’t talk about it. You don’t sponsor it away. You cut taxes.”

With all due respect, there is only one way to cut spending – by cutting spending. And then you cut taxes. In that order. Otherwise, Arkansas goes the way of Washington, D.C.

Jason Tolbert has a lot more.

4 thoughts on “To cut spending, you cut spending

  1. Actually, Steve, I think Sen. Baker is right and you’re comparing apples and oranges. At the federal level, you’re right, you have to cut spending first. But in Arkansas, thanks to the Revenue Stabilization Act, every dollar of tax cuts approved by the Legislature will and must result in a dollar of spending cuts, because the overall level of spending is determined by projected revenue. His point, I think, is that defeating this or that appropriation doesn’t accomplish diddly squat, because the money will just flow to some other appropriation. Literally the only way to cut overall spending in Arkansas government is to reduce projected revenue with a tax cut. You cut a tax, and you’ve guaranteed a spending cut.

  2. Hi, Mark.

    Thanks for reading and for writing. I saw you in Panda Garden the other day and should have said hi, but I was too busy stuffing my face with very cheap and pretty good Chinese food.

    I know that what you say theoretically is true, but I don’t have complete faith in the Revenue Stabilization Act. It didn’t stop the state from going in debt $330 million to the feds for unemployment benefits. If Arkansas is legally required to have a balanced budget every year, then it’s been breaking the law.

    “Will and must result in spending cuts”? I’m not willing to trust my state’s future in that.


  3. That’s a fair point. I don’t mean you should trust the state’s future to that; I’m only making a point about what I think is the wisest course of action in a tactical sense, and I think that was Sen. Baker’s intent as well.

    One thing I don’t understood is the Republican legislators who vote down a couple of measly agency budgets to save a few thousand dollars yet have no problem voting for general improvement bills appropriating literally millions of dollars for local pork. That just signals a huge disconnect to me.

  4. Thanks again for posting, Mark. I agree with everything you just wrote. I just have this concern that legislators – well, frankly, the Republicans – are going to employ the same “starve the government” strategy in Little Rock that they have at the national level. It made sense, but it didn’t work. Democrats agreed with Republicans on the tax-cutting side. Republicans agreed with Democrats on the increasing spending side. And the combination led to the national debt rising to these levels. And now we have a state debt.

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