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The kicker law is a conservative "slight of hand". The payments are made based on the the economy's ability to generate tax revenues that match economic forecasts made 30 months prior. If the revenue forecasts are high and collections low, services must be cut (often at a time when there is the most demand). If forecasts are low and collections high, surplus revenues are returned (at high administrative cost) three weeks before Christmas when it has the highest political impact. This process tends to ratchet down state service levels without direct legislative action. It serves the agenda of the politcal forces that want to "make government small enough to drown in a bathtub" as Grover Norquist so elequently put it.
To follow the same logic, we should have an automatic "reverse-kicker" that raises revenues when the economy and tax collections under-perform. A better plan is to use the best data available to forecast tax collections for the bienium, and put ALL surplus tax collections into a reserve fund to cover the shortages in lean years. That is how budgeting is done in virtually every other environment. It should also be done for state government.
posted 2 years, 2 months ago
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