As school districts, state & local governments figure out how to balance their budgets, many things are getting cut. It could be called hindsight to say save a little in good times and the cuts are less severe in bad times. However, politicians often seem to miss that message.
Going forward, there are tough choices to make about where we cut. Individuals have made these decisions with personal and household budgets. Now the government organizations have to step up. While there will always be people to lobby against cuts to their programs, I alwys think back to one simple question--If not this program, where would you make the cuts?
Individuals within large groups rarely step up to answer this challenge. Their focus is to save their favorite programs. In reality, the save also requires a method to reduce costs in some other area. When forced to choose, that choice says a lot about what you value more.
These decisions are often messy in misaligned industries. My definition of a misaligned industry is one where the customer that gets the service has a very limited or indirect association with the source of revenue/payment. Public schools have issues because funding comes from taxes and other government funds that loosely link to the student. In contrast, private schools have a more direct link of payment from the students' families. State & local governments also get taxes to fund their services, but rarely would an individual or family use all of the services of government. Some will be important to a family while others will go unused.
How do I link cuts to values? Some activities will never be valued by the majority, but the outcomes of those services ultimately lead to a better situation for all. I don't know people that are excited to pay taxes. Nevertheless, without taxes coming in, the government cannot provide their other services. For example, I would always take care of the potholes along the routes I travel. Places where I rarely travel would be at the bottom of the pothole repair list. I think pothole repair has a better priority list than where I drive.
Bringing all this back to real world examples...governments are always looking for businesses to add jobs within their state/local borders. Businesses often have interest in things like transportation, quality of workforce and housing, and tax benefits. When we cut things that negatively impact these business interests are we giving our municipalities a slow acting poison pill?
Now here's one of the many conflicts that comes up with cuts in education which started a few years ago.
Public education budgets are being cut around the country. What does it mean relative to those businesses that are considering relocation? Don’t move or move to a place where the areas that were cut are not that important to you/your business.
I am sure that we will revisit this later as people react to cuts…because some folks get active when their valued programs are cut. Do you?