Where’s the outrage?

In politics, the budget rules. Every reporter who has ever covered the machinations of a public body understands this. Whether it’s a local school board, town or city council, county commission, state legislature or Congress, it’s the same. The budget establishes priorities, determines who gets funding, and of course, who does not, where the politicians will spend our money, or cut it off.

It is the taxpayers’ money — ours, after all, so these important decisions should be made in the bright light of transparency, where all can see. That’s how democracy works. Not so in my state of North Carolina, not this year. This year, 10 days before the start of the legislative session, Phil Berger, president pro tem of the N.C. Senate, announced on Twitter that he and N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore had agreed on the amount that the state will spend in fiscal 2019, which begins in July. It’s $23.9 billion, if you’re curious.

Wait. Two guys decided this between themselves in secret? Here is what NC Policy had to say about this.

“Think for a moment about Berger’s pronouncement and its implications: the most powerful man in the state legislature has chosen to inform his 10 million fellow North Carolinians via a Trump-like tweet that what is almost certainly the most important decision to be rendered by the 170 Senators and Representatives who represent them each year has, for 2018, already been made – behind closed doors.”

Where is the  outrage? What might be worse than the lack of transparency and public access to such an important decision that affects everyone living and working in this state is the absence of a response. Why are we silent? Cuts and funding decisions should have full public exposure and debate. What can we expect for our schools, our roads and bridges, in health care, in our prisons, our state employees’ salaries, our law enforcement? We deserve to know. Need to know.

Here’s NC Policy Watch again: “Instead, a couple of small town lawyers have cut a backroom deal and the die has been cast. Lord only knows what they’ll decide next without the benefit of public scrutiny or input.”

Unfortunately, we have seen repeatedly that this is the way Republicans in power choose to represent us, at the local, state and national levels, wherever they hold the power. And these days, that’s pretty much everywhere. The question for us is, what are we going to do about it?

 

 

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