Our budget mess

From an editorial Tuesday in the Fayetteville Observer:

State lawmakers have a complex job description. But there are two fundamentals that underlie all of it: Set policy and appropriate the money needed to run the state.

We’re getting a textbook lesson this year in what happens when legislators try to mix those two jobs, turning the state budget into a policy-making device. It’s grinding everything to a halt.

The new fiscal year began on July 1. We’ll be lucky to have a new budget adopted by Sept. 1.

The artist drawing this chaotic scene is the N.C. Senate, which produced a budget nearly 200 pages longer than the House version. That’s because in addition to all the dollars and cents (about half a billion less than the House budget), the document is loaded with policy changes.

As a result, the House is bogged down analyzing the impact of the Senate’s proposed policy changes. And government on every level across the state is equally bogged down, uncertain about the funding it depends on.

It’s a terrible way to run one of the biggest states in the country. Unprofessional, inefficient – take your pick of negatives. It needs to change.

We deserve better.