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Editorials: The state budget mess

Today's editorial pages expand from two to four just so we can focus on the state's reluctance actually to deal with its budget crisis and deficits that could hit $10 billion over the next two years.

The governor issues strong warnings, but State Senate Democrats may not even attend today's special joint session to hear them. And there's no telling what tomorrow's Legislature meetings, reconvened at the governor's call, will yield.

Legislature leaders have said in the past that it might be best to wait until all this economic unpleasantness blows over, so we can see where we are. We know where we are -- up the creek without a functional Legislature.

The governor doesn't want to lay off state workers -- although he admits he may have to -- because he says this is no time to increase unemployment. But we don't see the state as primarily an employment agency, much less as an affordable employment agency, and taxpayer-funded jobs aren't the same as jobs generated by private enterprise. Surely just rolling back the state payroll to the level of three or four years ago, which could mean substantial savings, would be possible. 

Dems control the Legislature. Relatively powerless Republicans are discovering the joy of being ale to say strong things without fearing they might actually translate into action.

We're calling for a major change we think is mandated by the economy. Cut spending, and roll back taxes and fees to encourage private-sector economic growth and job creation that, in turn, would set the state back on the path to sustainable revenue restoration. Do we think these folks actually will roll back taxes? Not likely, in either this political or economic climate -- but the strategy should be set.

Otherwise, the downward spiral continues.

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