Wasn’t “show me the money” a repeated demand in that Tom Cruise movie, Jerry MacGuire?
The phrase seems appropriate in light of recent news from Indiana’s budget mavens; according to several media reports, state lawmakers will have about $213 million less to spend during the next two years than they thought they would.
And why might that be? After all, we’ve been assured by our elected officials that Right to Work and similar measures would grow Indiana’s economy and fill our coffers, that the ability to hire workers for low wages (because we all know that’s what Right to Work was all about–low wages) would bring “job creators” in droves to our state.
It didn’t seem to occur to our economics-challenged lawmakers that people who work for less have less to spend and less to tax.
The General Assembly’s logic reminds me of the old joke about the business owner who bragged that he was selling more widgets than his competitors, because he had priced his below cost. When he was asked how he expected to make any money, he said he’d make it up on volume.
Low wage workers don’t pay a lot of taxes, and widespread reductions in disposable income translate into less business for retailers and other business establishments, so the amount of tax paid by those businesses is also less than it would otherwise be.
Nor has Indiana seen the promised influx of new enterprises. Businesses tend to gravitate to places that can offer a high quality of life, and low-tax states like ours can’t compete with places that can spend more money on schools, transportation, parks, public art…. When you don’t have any natural amenities–seashores, mountains, great weather–the absence of those niceties is really noticeable.
You’d think our lawmakers would notice that constantly chasing the lowest common denominator hasn’t worked, but they’re doubling down. This session, it was repeal of the Common Construction Wage.
We’re circling the drain, while our “frugal” lawmakers wonder why they can’t show us the money.