Now More Than Ever
Whatever the merits and eventual outcome of these plans, a few implications for the Cost Cutting Caucus should be noted.
Whenever government raises taxes, cost cutting is imposed on families. Try as we might to claim that a tax increase is small or not noticeable, the fact remains that families often "stretch" to purchase necessary items. If new taxes add to the cost of a new car or a car repair, for example, the "stretch" might be too much and families will put off that purchase or expenditure. Alternatively, they will be forced to cut back on something else.
If elected leaders seek more money from families, they should be willing to tighten government's belt to ensure that any tax increase is really necessary or that it is as small as possible. Government should not be immune from the challenges it imposes on families.
The Cost Cutting Caucus can be a belt-tightening monitor.
The new transportation plans are being presented as responses to a "transportation crisis." If something is a "crisis," it presupposes that it has a higher priority. Prioritization shouldn't just be throwing more money at the "crisis" while keeping (or even increasing) spending on less pressing government activities.
The Cost Cutting Caucus can help shape priorities and apply savings to the "crisis" or to more pressing demands.
Although times are good, Virginia families face an array of increased expenses in 2006. Real estate assessments are up, car tax payments will be higher, energy prices are up, credit card minimum payments have increased ... the list goes on. Families will have to prioritize and cut costs. Government should, too.