Sequestration was the term used for automatic budget cuts put in place by the Budget Control Act. That legislation required Congress to produce a budget, or face sequestration. Because Congress couldn’t budget, the sequestration cuts kicked in.
Many claimed that they were draconian cuts (in truth, sequestration still allowed the federal budget to grow by $2.4 trillion over a decade), but really sequestration was just a reduction in the rate of budget bloat. If sequestration had been kept in place, growth in spending would have been $2.5 trillion less.
But now it’s gone, and people like North Dakota’s Jack Dalrymple are pretty happy about it:
North Dakota Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple told Newsmax that while his state has a “strong economy, we still dealt with the effects of sequestration last year.”
“We had to make up a substantial amount of money,” said Dalrymple. “We had to jump through hoops to deal with sequestration.”
For North Dakotans, he explained, this meant, forced cuts in flood control and water supplies, both of which are in part funded by federal tax dollars.
Someone with a different perspective – say, a conservative perspective – might argue that sequestration reducing the states’ dependence on federal spending is a good thing. But what’s ironic is that Dalrymple also said recently that states should be more conservative in their spending:
“The recession has brought on kind of a permanent sobriety about state budgeting,” North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, said in an interview as the National Governors Association met over the weekend. “Your revenues can turn down unexpectedly and very rapidly, and I think states in general are going to be more cautious fiscally.”
The sequestration, the demise of which Dalrymple cheers, was an attempt to return Washington DC to spending sobriety. Someone should remind Dalrymlpe that, federal budget or state budget, all the money is coming from the state taxpayers. If one state overspends the damage is, at least, limited to that state. But the national debt hurts us all.
And it’s a little hard to believe Dalrymple’s talk of sober state budgeting when he and the legislature did this to North Dakota’s budget.
The red column is last biennium’s spending. The green column was Governor Jack Dalrymple’s executive budget recommendation for the current biennium, and the blue column is what the legislature actually passed for the current biennium. That’s a 62% increase in general fund spending. Here’s the trend line for general fund spending in the state for the last decade through the current biennium:
In terms of per-capita general fund spending, North Dakota has seen a 171% increase over the last decade.
So, yeah. Budget sobriety. Dalrymple should practice what he preaches.