The Outer Provinces Must Send Their Tribute

Here we go again: Milwaukee leaders call for more state shared revenue:

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Monday that he wants the Legislature and state residents to know that Wisconsin’s largest city is not a drain on state resources but is instead a major contributor to state coffers.

City residents and businesses sent $1.37 billion to Madison in 2015 from all income, sales, utility and other taxes while the state returned only $227 million in the form of shared revenue payments, a difference of more than $1.1 billion, Barrett said. He spoke to several dozen corporate leaders Monday at a meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

I get to run this bit every couple of months when an elected official in a heavily populated governmental unit points out that a higher unit that collects taxes does not return more money to the lower unit than it collects. Sometimes, it’s California complaining that it’s not getting its fair share of Federal money. In this case, it’s a city saying it should have more money from the rest of the state. That is, Menomonie and Iron River should send their tax dollars to Milwaukee.

Generally speaking, it’s elected officials who think you should take from the rich and give to the poor, too, but that’s because they’re the ones who think in those terms instead of that the government should take tax money to do government things (plow the roads, protect the citizenry, and so on).

From the “If It Helps One Person” Files

Whenever talking about fiscal outlays for the impoverished, I often get “cut down to size” with the “if it helps one person, it’s worth it!” rejoinder, such as discussing this chart with a warm-hearted, caring doctor of comic books:

Sure, the amount spent has gone through the roof. But if it has helped one person! Or a small number of people.

In that vein, we have an excited story in the Springfield News-Leader about a change to a government program in Springfield: New city agreement could help more subsidized housing residents get off welfare.

People who receive federal housing vouchers are eligible for the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, which aims to help them get off welfare. Through an annual grant, the housing authority employs a coordinator who helps people set goals and connects them with resources, like job training programs or tuition assistance.

Since 1992, only 21 individuals have successfully completed the program, according to Erma Owens with the housing authority.

For the love of Pete, fewer than one person per year has successfully completed the program. That sounds like an ineffective program if you ask me. But I’m just a taxpayer.

The partnership the article speaks of is that the city will share an employee with the program.

This has definite benefits.

Adams said working at both places helps streamline the process for clients seeking help because she can tell them exactly what to expect from each office.

“Instead of me just saying ‘Go to the career center,’ I can tell them who to talk to. (That way they can) make a better connection with community resources and the career center,” Adams said.

That is, the benefits are facilitation, communication, and improved processination.

On the plus side, at least it’s not the city or the federal government throwing more money at the program hoping to get it up to 1.25 or 1.4 people per year.

“If it helps one person…” mostly helps one type of person: government or Near Government Organization employees.

A Burden That Will Never Be Compulsory

I saw this sticker on a gas pump in Republic, and I thought it was a capital idea:

It’s provided by an industry group, so to some people that makes it invalid even if it’s true.

You know how the government compels fast food restaurants to post calorie counts? Wouldn’t it be informative to display the tax burden on everything as well?

Of course, the government would never make this information mandatory. And to post sales tax information would be awfully troublesome for retailers, as overlapping tax districts make these rates vary street-to-street.

Ever since the government moved from coming hut-to-hut to collect chickens and crops, it has gotten better and better at hiding how it extracts money from the citizenry and how much.

The Headline Says It All, But The Article Explains

Much of Joplin has been rebuilt since 2011 — but not by the firm the city hired to do it.

Basically, the city of Joplin picked one company to spend a lot of government money, the company didn’t do much but spend the money, lawsuits ensued, and meanwhile, the people and businesses of Joplin lived their lives and livelihoods which involved building things without top-down direction and money-spending.

So the News-Leader is running a reflection on the phenomenon.

I didn’t read it. If you do, remember that the next time the city (any city, or any town) proposes a five-year-plan or other central planning device, the twenty-somethings at the News-Leader will laud it.

IT People Gonna Learn

I’ve had conversations on the Internet with liberalesque people working in IT about government regulation and the excess thereof. I’m thinking in particular of a conversation I had a couple years back with a fellow I went to college with.

My friend shared a post on Google+ about a software entrepreneur who said he heard a Republican candidate who said people weren’t starting businesses because of excessive taxation and regulation. The software entrepreneur said that was RIDICULOUS, HE was an entrepreneur, and this never entered his thinking!

So I argued that software was a low-footprint industry, that you could start a software business with a laptop at the coffee shop, but that getting into other real-world businesses runs into a lot of regulation. I cited examples of renting a stall in a salon, which requires a certain amount of regulated training; opening an automobile garage, which runs into all sorts of Federal, state and local regulations and inspections; and a restaurant owner I knew who had to pass so many inspections that he blew through his seed money and ultimately spent more time trying to comply with regulations than he did actually cooking food for the public.

I can’t link to the actual post since it wasn’t shared publicly, but rest assured, I was eloquent, self-assured, and presented a compelling case.

Still, so many people in the industry I’m in harbor a certain shortsightedness about how government regulation chokes off the little guy (on purpose, often).

Maybe not for long.

Computer coding program delays launch after inquiry from state agency:

Ward 5 Code Camp, which had planned to open Wisconsin’s first computer coding boot camp this month, has delayed its launch after a state agency said it had to register for regulatory oversight.

The Educational Approval Board, a Wisconsin agency that oversees 245 postsecondary schools, approached Ward 5 in early December after hearing about it from another school it oversees. Ward 5 this month postponed discussions with the agency, but it said it is working to find a way to open.

Welcome to the party, pals.

Involuntary Checkpoints Good, Voluntary Checkpoints Bad

Truly the logic in this story is dizzying: Local officials decry feds ‘voluntary’ sobriety checkpoints

Some St. Louis-area police and elected officials are questioning the effectiveness and propriety of federal roadside impaired driving checkpoints at which motorists were asked to voluntarily submit blood and saliva samples in exchange for cash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it conducted the tests as part of a nationwide survey designed to reduce drunken and drugged driving. The tests were conducted over the weekend in St. Charles County and in September in south St. Louis County.

However:

“I don’t think it’s proper use of law enforcement authority to flag people to the side of road for the voluntary testing of anything,” Fitch said.

He said such stops should be confined to regulated sobriety checkpoints.

Please, understand, it’s okay when the local law enforcement stops everyone in an involuntary checkpoint to write a handful of citations, but it’s bad when a Federally funded research outfit conducts research and gathers DNA.

Citizens, is it matter of degree or a matter of kind?

Senator Claire McCaskill Thinks The Government Should Record You More

McCaskill questions why Springfield traffic footage is not recorded:

As Jason Haynes, a city of Springfield traffic engineer, led McCaskill on a tour of the center’s control room, which features a number of cameras and computers displaying live video from the traffic cameras along with other information, the senator asked if the video was recorded. The answer was no.

McCaskill responded that recording would be helpful for law enforcement, if for no other purpose. She mentioned the Boston Marathon bombing this spring, where images helped identify the Tsarnaev brothers on the street at the time of the bombing.

Indeed, whyever would a government entity not capture images and data on its free citizens when it can? That just makes sense to a Federal-level Democrat.

The Saga of St. Louis County’s Garbage Collection Saga Continues

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis County, where St. Louis County a couple years back determined it had the right and the obligation to select medical care and providers garbage haulers for residents of the unincorporated St. Louis County, those trash haulers have won in court a lawsuit that says the county violated the law in not giving them two years’ notice in their lack of livelihood. Story:

The Missouri Supreme Court upheld on Tuesday a 2010 St. Louis County Circuit Court ruling that the county violated state law when it failed to give three waste haulers two years’ notice before setting up trash districts.

The haulers — American Eagle Waste Industries, Meridian Waste Services and Waste Management of Missouri — had sued after they did not get contracts when the county set up the districts in 2008.

. . . .

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Jane Dueker, with the Clayton firm of Stinson Morrison Hecker, had asserted that Wallace’s award was too low and that her clients were due about $23 million in lost revenue.

Dueker predicted Tuesday that her clients would end up winning more than Wallace had initially awarded them. Dueker would not estimate how much that total would be.

“The real shame is that the taxpayers of the county are the ones who are on the hook for the damages,” Dueker said.

Hopefully, the city of Republic, which is currently seeking to expand this dominion over its citizens, is paying attention.

In Lake Woebegovernment, All Salaries Are Above Average

In Springfield, the head of the city’s HR department has told the city council that city salaries are too low:

Springfield is at best average — and more often significantly worse — when it comes to the pay offered to most city employees, according to a salary survey City Council discussed Tuesday.

The survey, completed earlier this year, compared the maximum pay for 61 city positions to the salaries offered for the same work in 11 of Springfield’s benchmark cities.

“All in all, 64 percent of our salary survey positions are in the lower third,” said Sheila Maerz, the city’s director of human resources. “Our goal is to be in the middle third.”

You know what citizens should call this? A bargain.

The article does mention that Springfield has the lowest cost of living among the cities sampled for this information. The city also says that its cost of attaining new workers, which would seem to indicate that they’re not having trouble filling the jobs they post. So, what’s the problem?

It’s hard for me to imagine an HR director at a private company going to the corporate management and saying “We need to boost salaries just because.” If Springfield’s city salaries go up, its benefits costs go up, and its ability to meet its future obligations go up drastically. Let’s take a look at the cities Springfield compared itself to:

  • Abilene, Texas (Dyess Air Force Base)
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Columbia, S.C. (Fort Jackson)
  • Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Huntsville, Ala. (U.S. Army Redstone Center, NASA)
  • Knoxville, Tenn. (U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge)
  • Salt Lake City, Utah (State Capital)
  • Savannah, Ga. (Hunter Army Air Field)
  • Wichita Falls, Texas (Sheppard Air Force Base)

Look at all the government jobs available in those positions. Of the other eleven benchmark cities, at least six of them have military bases or other federal installations in them and one of them is the state capital. As such, they are automatically going to have competition for government workers and would have to pay better to keep the city workers from becoming state or Federal employees or contractors.

I wonder if the presentation covered the possibility that the job competition might have had an impact.

A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned; A Federal Dollar Saved Is A Fiscal Disaster For Someone

The Government Services Agency, recently in the news for its expensive and lavish conferences which sometimes mocked the thought of fiscal restraint, has cut a conference from its docket. St. Louis businesses who would have benefited from the largesse this time around are unhappy:

That was the case this week, when a scandal-plagued federal agency, still reeling from revelations about a lavish conference in Sin City, pulled the plug on an upcoming gathering here in the Gateway City.

Now 10 downtown hotels are left with a bunch of empty rooms and wondering if they will ever get paid.

The General Services Agency, which manages nuts-and-bolts federal purchasing, told St. Louis convention officials this week that they are canceling a big energy trade show scheduled for America’s Center next month. It would have filled nearly 2,500 hotel rooms downtown for four nights, generating an estimated $6 million in hotel and convention spending, plus cab rides, meals and more. Now? Nothing.

“It’s impossible to fill almost 2,500 hotel rooms for four or five nights in a month,” said Kathleen “Kitty” Ratcliffe, president of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. “Those hotels are going to sit empty. Cab drivers won’t be working. Restaurants won’t be as busy.”

As we have seen in Missouri, we get an article from this template when the legislature performs any sort of spending restraint that caps spending increases, reallocates fiscal resources according to some sense of priorities, or even eliminates some programs. Open your local paper today, and I’ll bet you’ll find a story about people who won’t receive money from the state or nonprofits who will not receive some sort of state funding. I even had a full schtick going during the Blunt governorship pointing out all the people Matt Blunt hated by cutting their funding.

It’s easy to report on the people who lose the federal dollars because that impact is focused, and journalists can find people to quote and photograph. It’s easy to mobilize these people to call their legislators to get that funding restored.

The savings impact, though, is diffused throughout the budget. That $6,000,000, not all of it government funds, will get spent on something else. But, still, savings are savings. Cancel a couple of these conferences, and you can buy an Apache. Which is more important to the country? Ask the GSA or some energy company, and they’ll say the conference. Ask any number of soldiers, if they think about it, and they’ll say air support. That’s optimistic, of course; the six million dollars will remain in the GSA budget for something like a fleet of Chevy Volts or something, but still, that’s at least not quite as ephemeral as a conference.

It’s unfortunate that the city of St. Louis’s publicly funded convention facilities have lost publicly funded conferences to trickle some money into the hands of actual citizens and torrents of amenities into the pockets, maws, and alcohol-fueled sleep of government employees and government hangers on. But it’s a step in the right direction, and further steps, if they’re taken, will lead to news stories much like this one, rending garments and wailing.

The Lessons of a Blooming Public-Private Partnership

In Nixa, the city fathers are considering whether to turn part of their community center over to the YMCA:

Since the first of the year, City Council, together with the Parks Advisory & Stormwater committees, has searched for solutions to help fund the city’s parks and stormwater operations and maintenance. Discussions involved a possible stormwater/parks sales tax initiative and the privatization of the Community Center’s second floor as a fitness facility.

A request for proposal (RFP) advertising the availability of the second floor enticed the Ozarks Regional YMCA to submit a partnership proposal for Council’s consideration. The public is invited to share their opinions on the YMCA proposal that transfers responsibilities of Nixa Parks recreational programs to the YMCA at two public meetings held on July 5 and July 9.

If your city is looking for ways to get out from under the onerous burdens of the programs and facilities it created in flush times and/or in response to peer pressure from other regional governments (Ozark has a community center! We should, too!) and wants to turn them over to private, nonprofit or for-profit enterprises, your city has extended itself beyond basic services into things best accommodated by the private sector.

Lesson learned? Probably not.

Full disclosure: I am a member at the YMCA, and I have been off and on for fifteen years, and the last three have been at the Ozarks Regional YMCA.

For other local YMCA follies, see how the city of Ozark considered turning its rec center over to the YMCA (it didn’t) or how the Springfield Parks Board wanted to replicate the YMCA’s services with a new expensive rec center (Of course, they went ahead on it.)

The Governor Only Does Good Things

Two headlines this morning jumped out at me:

Fascinating, isn’t it, how when laws are made, the Republicans in the legislature do the bad things about making cuts and balancing the budget against the valiant efforts of the Democratic governor, but when it’s time to sign the things that the media likes, the Democratic governor is responsible for the good things?

Well, not fascinating, but too typical.

To Some, It Would Be Something To Brag About

The elected city council of the city of Springfield are unpaid, and the mayor draws a token salary. Of course, this needs to change:

No Springfield City Council member has drawn a public paycheck for more than half a century, but one current member thinks the topic is due for a discussion.

“What I want to do with it is open up that discussion, is that something we need to consider? We are one of the largest cities in the country that doesn’t have a paid (council).”

At Bieker’s request, tonight’s City Council agenda includes an action item referring the issue to council’s Plans and Policies Committee for review.

The City Charter adopted by voters in 1953 grants the mayor a $200 monthly salary and up to $100 a month for expenses.

The charter specifically forbids a salary for council members, although it does allow them to be “reimbursed for any necessary specific expenses incurred in connection with their duties …”

Of course, they’re going to compare the council and mayor to other cities of the size. Cities whose fiscal house might be in terrible shape, but that’s neither here nor there.

Personally, I prefer a community where the leadership is unpaid and therefore doesn’t feel the need to put in a full forty hours a week in making and enforcing an ever-growing set of constricting laws and ordinances.

But Springfield wants to be a big city, dammit! So it’s ladling out tax incentives to big corporations and developers and everything else.

Gritty Urban Scenes from Southwest Missouri

The sensational Census story proclaims Census: 8 of 10 Americans now urbanites:

Move over, New York City. Nine of the 10 most densely populated areas in the U.S. are out West, and eight out of 10 Americans are now urbanites, a U.S. Census Bureau report released Monday shows.

However, like the recently trumpeted “Chocolate leads to weight loss” study that’s gotten a lot of brief mentions by radio personalities in between their shallow playlists and brief Internet mentions, looking behind the headlines will reveal something that pretty much contradicts the headline.

In the chocolate study, it was the fact that everyone in the study was exercising 3.6 times a week (more than I do, certainly).

In the Census Bureau study, it’s the definition of urban:

The census data identifies two types of urban areas: “urbanized areas” of 50,000 or more people and “urban clusters” of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people. There are 486 urbanized areas and 3,087 urban clusters nationwide.[Emphasis added.]

You know what we call an urban area of 2,500 people in the real world? A small town.

But going by the Census Bureau’s definition, ladies and gentlemen, here is the gritty urban world of Republic, Missouri. Continue reading “Gritty Urban Scenes from Southwest Missouri”

Pinnacle Falls Short On Its Promises

The city of St. Louis chose Pinnacle Entertainment to build a casino (Lumière Place) after extracting promises that the developer would pour an additional $50 million dollars in urban Renaissance development in the city.

Well, it got a profitable casino. But Pinnacle has not delivered on the promised Renaissance development:

In 2004, Pinnacle Entertainment made a deal with the city to invest $50 million in revitalizing the riverfront area within five years of opening its $507 million Lumière Place casino.

A year later, Pinnacle promised a $25 million condo tower on Laclede’s Landing. In 2006, the company announced plans to build stores and additional condos as part of a second phase of Lumière Place, which opened in December 2007.

But the recession hit — and the projects were canceled.

Pinnacle now faces a December deadline. Its only investment outside of its casino complex: the $9.8 million Stamping Lofts project. And even though it is getting full credit for the project, its financial investment was just $2 million.

To recap how these gilded deals play out:

  • Pinnacle promises urban Renaissance development if it gets to build a casino first. Pinnacle builds the casino, then does not meet its other promises. 
     
  • The St. Louis Cardinals promise a $550 million dollar urban Renaissance development if they can build a new tax-subsidized stadium first. The new ballpark opened in 2006. Six years later, the promised mixed use development is coming soon. After additional tax subsidies, please. 
     
  • A series of developers promise to urban Renaissant (we might as well coin a verb for it) with a series of tax credits, incentives, loans, and the city of Springfield’s construction of parking garages. (The saga unfolds here.) Decades after the first attempts at public/private glory, the building remains boarded up at city expense, but the parking garages and their debt and annual maintenance costs are there.

What happens over and over: The private developer gets what it wants and breaks its promises. The iron-clad contracts to which the city thinks it has bound the developer are renegotiated when the developer is going to not meet them to save face for the city, or the developer walks away from the contracts entirely.

Sadly, the lesson tomorrow’s leaders won’t learn a lesson that these sorts of agreements benefit the private at the expense of the public. The lesson they will learn is to make their iron-clad contracts iron-cladder as they continue the same pattern.

Greene County Makes Instapundit

A KY3 story about a defending his property with a firearm merited a mention on Instapundit yesterday. The story:

An elderly cattle rancher recently came face-to-face with three thieves on his property, and he took the matter into his own hands. The thieves might have been arrested if Vance West had been able to get someone to help him.

Instapundit notes:

I love how the sheriff uses this as an excuse to ask for a tax increase.

Republican Sponsors Bill To Nullify Contracts

That’s one way to look at Missouri Representative Kurt Bahr’s proposed law to abrogate the contracts between subdivision/neighborhood associations and their members:

That would change statewide for future elections under a bill proposed by a legislator from nearby O’Fallon. The measure, by Republican Rep. Kurt Bahr, would prevent homeowners associations from enforcing or adopting bans on political signs.

“Should a private organization allow you to contract away constitutionally protected inherent rights?” Bahr asked.

Strangely enough, contract law does this all the time.

Consider:

  • Employer contracts that require non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure agreements. These contracts “violate” the rights to assemble and to free speech and press. 
     
  • Employer or other contracts that require drug testing. These violate the right to be secure against unreasonable searches. 
     
  • Lawsuit settlements where terms include nondisclosure and nondisparagement. These also violate the right to free speech. 
     
  • When employers fire you or taverns kick you out without a jury trial. This violates the 7th Amendment 
     
  • Mortgage agreements. Have you ever actually read a mortgage contract? You would be surprised to find out what you cannot do. Storing flammable liquids like gasoline for your lawnmower might put you in violation, which might make you think the bank is violating your private property rights.

And so on and so forth.

The fact of the matter is that people sign contracts and make individual agreements that limit what they can do. This does not “violate the rights” of either party in the contract or agreement any more than holding one’s tongue when one has a snarky remark violate’s one’s own right to free speech.

What Representative Bahr confuses here, as so many do, is that the Bill of Rights limits the government’s authority, not other organizations.

Anyone who signs a contract with a neighborhood association needs to honor that contract. Anyone considering moving into a home bound by such a contract needs to recognize that it is a contract, not a formality, and they need to honor it.

And the Missouri government should not step in and break these codicils when the citizens who signed the agreement didn’t read them or didn’t really expect to be held to them.

I’m not sure the non-enforcement part of the law could stand up in court anyway. After all, ex post facto is not just a river in Italy.

(Representative Bahr’s HB 1380 text here. United States Bill of Rights text here)

The Rams’ Dome Dilemma in the Wall Street Journal

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about the forthcoming taxpayer holdup by the Big Football/St. Louis City Government gang. The gist:

The fight to save St. Louis’s NFL franchise comes at a tough time. The city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the state of Missouri together still owe $153 million on the downtown dome and face deep budget cuts in other areas. But they are proposing a $124 million plan to build new club seats and a 50,000-square-foot plaza at the dome—with nearly half the cost funded by taxpayers.

In Los Angeles, taxpayers would pay almost nothing for the proposed stadiums.

Economists say large cities often fare better than smaller markets in stadium deals with professional sports teams because they can offer franchises a bigger base of potential fans, and because the larger cities are less reliant on a team to help shape their area’s image.

Despite evidence that these investments rarely pay off in purely economic terms, smaller-market cities continue to offer sports teams millions of dollars in hopes the investments will pay off by improving the quality of life, aiding in the recruitment of new businesses and burnishing their national reputation. Minneapolis and Minnesota are offering more than $600 million for a new Vikings football stadium. And Indiana still owes $649 million on the Colts’ four-year-old stadium.

Two decades after the Rams arrived from Los Angeles, St. Louis is offering millions to try to close an escape clause that could allow the team to return to the glitz of its former home. Jack Nicas has details on The News Hub. Photo: Getty Images

In larger markets, however, cities have managed to keep taxpayers largely off the hook for stadiums, such as the New York Giants’ and Jets’ $1.6 billion, two-year-old stadium and the San Francisco 49ers’ planned $1.02 billion stadium.

Indeed, taxpayers have shouldered about four-fifths of the funding for NFL stadiums in the eight smallest media markets with new facilities since 1995, according to an analysis of data from the consulting firm Convention Sports & Leisure International. During that period, taxpayers have funded less than a fifth of the cost of NFL stadiums in the eight largest media markets where new facilities have been built or are planned, according to the data.

“Investments” in public/private partnerships always work out for the private half, don’t they? The public? Not so much.

Bear this in mind when the state cuts benefits to certain constituencies and when local cities cannot provide basic services like police protection or animal control without additional taxes.

If Springfield Spends $40 Million, Springfield Will Surely Spend $40 Million

A consultant says that Springfield can turn $40 million tax dollars into a cool $1 billion:

A consultant’s report estimates that a $90 million investment in the Springfield Expo Center and adjoining facilities could increase local spending over the next 25 years by more than $1 billion.

Chicago-based consultant Rob Hunden, who will present the financial impact analysis to city staff and others Thursday, estimates that public money would need to cover about $40 million of the development costs. But the taxpayers’ investment would be paid back with increased tax revenue within 25 years.

“The groups that get the tax money aren’t necessarily the groups that would invest the tax money,” Hunden said, cautioning that the estimate includes revenue to all the taxing jurisdictions in Greene County.

So, while the city would not recoup the entire $40 million investment directly, Hunden expects the combined tax revenue of the city, county, local school districts and others to increase by about $43 million overall.

Spending $40 million dollars to develop a convention center when the convention industry is in steep decline and conventioneers, those that remain, will find the opportunity to get bargain rates in larger cities as they struggle to populate their tax-funded convention centers.

I’m not sure Bernie Madoff promised this sort of return to his investors. In the 21st century, people are quite right to think that “con man” is short for “consultant man.”

Juxtaposition, University Edition

Yesterday’s Springfield News-Leader ran the following two stories on page 1, probably thinking they’re unrelated.

In the first, the governor fights against the legislature’s spending priorities, which place university funding against state payments for the care of under 3,000 citizens who are blind:

Gov. Jay Nixon and disability advocates are criticizing a House committee’s recommendation to cut $28 million in medical services for blind Missourians in order to make up for a reduction in higher education funding.

The House Appropriations Committee on Health, Mental Health and Social Services recommended last week cutting more than $60 million in funding to a variety of programs. Among the reductions was the money used to take care of 2,858 blind Missourians.

But the nut graf is deeper in the story:

Nixon’s initial budget proposal included a reduction of $106 million for public colleges and universities.

Cuts to higher education! Why, the students will have to make due with fewer tenured professors and more itinerant professors. The universities will have to cut staff! Because the universities cannot stop funding expensive amenities:

A new architectural addition to the campus of Missouri State University is only months away from reality.

At the construction site of Foster Recreation Center, workers are installing basketball goals, putting up supports for a climbing wall and completing a swimming pool with a lazy river.

To the tune of:

The university broke ground on the $30 million construction project in April 2010.

I know, that money comes from a student fee and not from the state’s monies, but it’s the state’s monies that make the $30,000,000 “investment” in amusement activities possible.

Because governments don’t have to prioritize spending, and if they do, they’re demonized.