Bad as me

By AL DIAMON  |  January 4, 2012

If governors past or present had taken this approach, they'd have summoned their court jesters — I mean, their economists — and asked for revenue estimates. Then, they'd have developed a budget based not on those figures, but on an amount at least 10 percent less. "These bozos couldn't count their fingers correctly," the guv would explain. "We're giving their calculations a thumbs down."

There'd be screams of outrage from those who lost funding. There'd be calls for tax increases from those who receive money from taxes. There'd be denunciations of the governor's financial acumen and moral standards. In other words, things would be the same as they are now.

With one crucial difference.

This budget based on low expectations would almost certainly be balanced. It might even result in a surplus, because spending wouldn't be tied to what the economists said, but to more pessimistic projections. With any windfall this would produce, the governor could triumphantly announce the restoration of funding for worthy programs, an increase in the Rainy Day Fund, or even a tax cut, thereby looking like the clever hero of this financial melodrama.

That's all there is to it. Budget to spend far less than what's expected for income in even a worst-case scenario. Endure the caterwauling about the cuts in services. Revel in the adulation of the masses when the excess cash is tallied up.

Sure, it's cynical. But it beats the underlying motivation for the current method of predicting finances and preparing budgets, which is based either on villainy or stupidity.

Best of all, it doesn't require any understanding of economics. Or football.

No matter your financial situation, you can afford to email me at

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