Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Montana Governor Brian Sweitzer Explains How Good Fiscal Management is Done

But He Doesn’t Have the Fun of Bashing Public Employees

A Well Run State - By a Democrat!

Brian Sweitzer is an anomaly.  He is a Democrat and he is Governor of Montana.  Furthermore, he seems to be a level headed Governor, one who manages his states fiscal matters in a responsible manner.  He was rewarded with an opinion piece in the New York Times, Cutting Costs the Montana Way.

Gov. Sweitzer congratulates himself (that’s ok, it seems like he has earned it) on his Montana’s fiscal performance

For six years it has been one of the only states in America with a budget surplus: this year it is a record $433 million, proportionally equivalent to a federal surplus of $858 billion. Thus we’ve been able to cut taxes, invest in education and infrastructure and keep essential services intact. We recently got our first bond rating upgrade in 26 years.

So how did he and his state accomplish this?  Well there is this

Little things added up: we renegotiated state contracts, cut our energy consumption by 20 percent, auctioned off state vehicles and canceled building projects and computer upgrades.

And in an amazing (ok amazing to Conservatives, common sense to the rest of us)

Spend More on Collecting Money Owed!
Conservatives will not like that

We even saved by spending: we stepped up our efforts to collect unpaid tax bills from out-of-state and foreign corporations, an undertaking that more than paid for itself.

And can the Federal Government learn any lessons, Mr. Sweitzer things so

I was recently at a military base where a private firm ran security. Why, with the toughest soldiers on earth, would the federal government spend extra cash to rent security guards rather than let troops take turns guarding the fort?

And as far as using the purchasing power of the Federal Government to cut costs,

Consider Medicare drug purchases, one of the largest federal budget items. We are often told the cost of entitlements can be brought down only by cutting services. Nonsense. In 2003, in one of the greatest sweetheart giveaways ever dreamed up by the White House and Congress, they agreed to pay retail rates for Medicare drugs, even when everyone knew they could negotiate lower, bulk prices. The cost to taxpayers? An estimated $600 billion a decade.

And finally, Mr. Sweitzer recognizes that public employees, far from being the enemy, are going to be needed allies

Like other states, we’ve had to freeze employee pay and reduce the work force. But as in any good organization, many of the best solutions for cutting costs come from state employees. Some look at payroll as a burden; we look at it as human capital, and we work hard to keep up morale in tough times. So when we cut the state payroll, I cut my own salary.

Ok, a lot of quotes but they all have one thing in common. 

Conservative Contribution to
the Road to Fiscal Management

These are ideas and concepts opposed by Conservatives.  Conservatives want to privatize things, which as Mr. Sweitzer says, costs more.  They refuse to let Medicare negotiate with drug companies, so drug costs for the Feds is higher.  They are all opposed to giving the IRS more money for enforcement, which would more than pay for itself and of course they view public employees as people to be cowed, not as dedicated workers interested in the welfare of their community.

So maybe the Federal Government could be run more efficiently, if the Conservatives would just let it and get out of the way.

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