Why the federal budget debate matters in the states
There’s doggone near nobody who isn’t concerned about dealing with the nation’s long-term budget challenges of deficit and debt.
What not enough people will recognize, however, is the danger of diving headlong into a deficit-cutting approach that just digs a deeper hole, both for the economy and for the critical services that federal, state and local government spending supports.
And that’s the problem with the so-called “Ryan Budget,” named for Congressman Paul Ryan. That approach, passed by the House, makes cuts to funding for state and local services that are far deeper than the cuts many expect to happen with sequestration, the automatic cut process demanded by last year’s Budget Control Act compromise.
A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities outlines the challenge for states generally with the Ryan approach:
- Federal cuts of 34 percent by 2022 to Medicaid compared to current law, and by steadily larger amounts after that.
- Federal cuts of 22 percent in 2014 and in later years to non-defense “discretionary” spending — which leaves Medicare and Social Security alone but hits local and state services in education, infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and public health and safety including law enforcement.
For Iowa, the non-defense “discretionary” cuts are projected at $237 million in 2014 alone, and $2.1 billion from 2013 through 2021.
Want clean water? If you live in Iowa, where the state routinely shortchanges environmental enforcement, how bad do you think things might get when the federal funds are cut as well? Concerned about the quality of your food? Or your kids’ schools? Maybe the safety of the bridge you’re approaching on the way to work?
Well, folks, you get what you pay for.
Posted by Mike Owen, Assistant Director