The Agenda

Happy-Time Budgeting

From the Pew Research Center:

With the economy wreaking havoc on state budgets, the favorability ratings of state governments have declined from a year ago. Overall, 50% of the public now holds a favorable opinion of their state government, down from 59% in April 2008. The falloff in positive views has been greater in states with large and moderate budget shortfalls than in states with smaller budget gaps.

Governors of both parties have a tendency to increase spending and cut taxes when times are flush, hoping that the next recession will be on someone else’s watch. I’m reminded of Alberta premier Peter Lougheed, the Harvard MBA who presided over the province’s oil boom yet insisted on maintaining tight fiscal discipline while investing natural resource revenues in human capital development. Apart from leaving Alberta in fine fiscal shape, Lougheed managed to stay in power for fourteen years. His prudent policies proved pretty popular.   

Reihan Salam is president of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

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