Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bad #lalege math

This is an Advocate op-ed by UNO English professor Peter Schock on the absurd slogan applied by administrators and state legislators to the unconscionable gutting of that university:
The fallout from the directive to do more with less, as I have just described it, is destructive enough, but there’s more, and it’s worse. For our students, doing more with less also means paying a tuition increase that has generated funds used only to backfill the hole in state funding created by the ongoing reductions in state appropriations. State legislation (the “GRAD Act”) permits institutions meeting performance benchmarks to increase tuition annually by 10 percent, but the potential benefits of the GRAD Act have been negated through what is euphemistically called a “tuition swap.” In this procedure, the state reduces the funds appropriated to each institution by an amount equal to the total new revenue the tuition increase is projected to generate in the coming year. Thus, additional money that could have been used to benefit students in various ways — by hiring additional faculty to bring down class size or upgrading our facilities — never materializes.
"More with less" is a favorite political aphorism. It's the preferred way to sell austerity policies with a comforting lie that something helpful is being offered. It disguises rot in a superficial veneer of virtue.

So it's no wonder that such a directive would emanate from the Louisiana Legislature, although it might also be the case that they are just bad at basic mathematical concepts.  By the same physics that disallow an alchemy where "less" can produce "more," we also know that we cannot simultaneously raise revenue and remain "revenue neutral."
Legislative leaders have focused their attention on Adley’s measure for two reasons. One is that they expected it would raise about $500 million per year, or fill about one-third of the projected budget deficit.

Another reason is that, under complicated rules set down by Gov. Bobby Jindal from the Washington, D.C., anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, the Legislature could offset that $500 million with up to $500 million of tax increases.

That is because the tax group has decreed that eliminating the inventory tax actually counts as a tax decrease because it repeals taxes that businesses pay. Under Jindal’s rules, any tax increases must be offset with tax or spending reductions.

We’re not going to hear bills to raise revenue unless we have a repeal of other taxes to keep the revenue neutrality in place,” Robideaux said when asked why he changed his plans on Monday.

Robideaux’s committee was prepared to consider raising revenue by trimming an array of tax breaks for the film industry, the solar industry, businesses that invest in supposedly blighted areas and others. In all, his committee was scheduled to hear 23 tax-raising measures.
But let's not let that spoil anyone's fun.  No doubt if we let them keep digging they'll figure a way to reach the top.  

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