Stokes posts about possible ways to raise money for city pensions over at the Show-Me Institute blog.
Update: For some background on the subject you can look back to the Feb 7, 2006 edition of the Arch City Chronicle. ACC writer Matthew Murphy took an early look (pdf) at the potential fiscal crisis over the city's pension problems.
Press Release from the Comptroller:
ST. LOUIS, July 19, 2005—In spite of finishing $1.45 million in the red, the fiscal year that ended June 30 showed signs of positive economic growth, particularly in sales and earnings tax receipts. Both revenue streams beat projections, especially for the year’s final quarter. The payroll tax ended about where projected. Lambert Airport and natural gas gross receipts also outpaced projections for the year.
The city’s amusement tax, however, was $1 million lower than expected. Likewise, the hotel tax was down $500,000 and the parking tax was down $400,000. The amusement tax is likely down due to the cancellation of the St. Louis Blues hockey season. Hotel and parking revenue probably suffered from the same cause. On the positive side, the restaurant tax ended up about where originally projected in light of downtown losing more than 40 home hockey games.
“The economic vital signs of the city seem to have turned the corner. Mid-year and third quarter results projected continued budget problems but the last quarter of the fiscal year showed an amazing recovery in the economically sensitive taxes such as sales tax and earnings tax,” explained Deputy Comptroller Thom Bozzo.
Below are highlights from the fiscal year 2005 operating budget:
• Sales Tax – $2.1 million over projections
• Earnings Tax – $1.1 million over projections
• Airport Gross Receipt Tax – $1.4 million over projections
• Natural Gas Gross Receipts Tax – $1.3 million over projections
Over the past few years, the city’s major revenue sources have generally fallen short of expectations or remained flat. This year bucked that trend and was a pleasant surprise for the city’s chief fiscal officer.
“We ended this year with some positive financial momentum. Its up to us as city leaders to build on this and grow it into even larger gains for next year and the years to come,” said Comptroller Darlene Green. “It will take a true team effort and a renewed commitment to fiscal responsibility to get St. Louis where we want it to be financially.”
The year end results cited above are unaudited and represent preliminary calculations. The official audited results will be published later this year in the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
A Lebanon Daily Record editorial sums up the current budget cuts. (via John Combest)
Our state's economy is improving but we're not to the point yet that a tax increase is in order to pay for more government programs, no matter how good the idea.The editorial is correct in that Gov. Blunt is the official the voters wanted to run the state. It was their choice to elect someone who said they didn't have to raise taxes, but could rely on optimistic projections of economic growth to fund education, roads and health care for the poor. However, few could have anticipated the enthusiasm and the indifference with which Gov. Blunt's budget team would descend upon Missouri's books.
Government programs -- no matter how many people benefit -- only make sense if you can fund them.
And in November, the message was clear.
Voters wished for a governor who would make cuts in lean times.
We have it, for better or worse. That all depends on which side of the political fence you're on.
These issues are not softened by some polar political point of view, some of the hardest hit areas will be the out-state communities that were some of the strongest supporters of Blunt. They will bear the brunt of the social and medical care cuts.
It is unlikely that when parents are forced to give up their medical coverage because it has become too expensive, and lie awake at night wondering what will happen to their family if they get hurt, they will think, "well, it's not so bad, I did vote for the guy."
These budget cuts continue to have their hardest impact on the majority of the people in this state who live very close to the bone. These are the families who are trying to get by with increasing costs, and decreasing opportunities.
As for the economic questions, cuts in state funding for medical services are expected to cost the state economy hundreds of millions of dollars and potentially thousands of jobs. During the recent recession, the one area of the economy that continued to see growth was the health care field. In these lean times, Governor Blunt's policies may cost the state even that growth.
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