State Senator and Republican candidate for the 3rd Congressional District Dan Kapanke has a budget analogy that needs some work. Comparing the state’s budget with one’s personal finances, Kapanke equates the appropriation of segregated funds away from their intended use with stealing from a neighbor.
Problem — the state’s money is the state’s money and the neighbor’s money is the neighbor’s. The state’s use of segregated funds is more akin to digging into your vacation savings to pay the mortgage. Ideally it doesn’t happen, but it beats the alternative. And Michigan has nothing to do with it.
Kapanke goes on to propose individual budgets for each department. Every two years, the state’s budget becomes a messy, all-night affair that has been shameful under both parties. Does Kapanke really think passing multiple budgets will be easier?
Sen. Kapanke goes on to mention zero-based budgeting, which I described as a bureacratic nightmare earlier this year. Also suggested is performance-based budgeting. Now, ZBB was implemented federally under Carter, and killed by Reagan for the reasons mentioned above. Performance-based budgeting was experimented with earlier, in the 1960′s and 1970′s at both state, local and federal levels. It requires lots of analysts (ie: more bureaucrats in standard Republican lingo) with a high level of access, and assumes no political pressure to continue programs that aren’t up to par. Nice in theory, but as a comprehensive system of budgeting it doesn’t work.
Don’t think lawmakers fail to consider a programs performance now, they do, and certainly should more. But Kapanke’s suggestions are better as a candidate’s campaign soundbite than as a legislator’s budgeting practice.