Blame the 15 no-tax council members for painful cuts

Apr 3, 2019 at 9:55 am

Try to blame Mayor Greg Fischer all you want, but it’s the fault of a handful of Metro Council members that public services will be cut, and the city will be dirtier, more dangerous and less attractive as a result.

The 15 council members — eight Democrats and all seven Republican council members — who voted against the tax increase, now must shoulder full responsibility for solving the city’s budget deficit. After failing to come to an agreement on Fischer’s tax proposal — even a compromise for a smaller tax — they must now reconcile next year’s $35 million deficit, plus future deficits, while guaranteeing no additional risks to public safety.

They owe us a plan — not just where they will cut $35 million to balance next year’s budget, but where they will go to find $10 million more the next year, and the year after, and the year after. What all those who voted against raising revenue are saying is that in four years the city should be spending $65 million less than it is today.

Forget any new investments.

This group owes us more than a plan, it owes us a vision for how the city will be better off in the future as a result of cutting $65 million each year.

Fischer’s proposed tax increase would have raised the average Louisville family’s insurance premium by $12 per month.

It’s clear by the responses from those who voted “no” that they have no alternative plan, nor do they grasp the real problems that will stem from a cut-only approach.

A bipartisan group of the no-votes gathered before the press after the proposal was voted down to express their enthusiasm for undertaking this challenge — it was as if a Rand Paul rally to shrink the government broke out on the steps of City Hall.

“This shortfall we face is a blessing in disguise,” according to Democratic Councilman Brent Ackerson, “because it should force your government to fully examine each dollar we spend, decide to make that expense, and be able to tell you, the public, why that expenditure is necessary. That is simply what good government does.”

Blessing in disguise! I have questions...

What have you, Brent, been doing up until now? Are you going to tell us how much you’ve wasted up until this point or failed to identify as wasteful?

I don’t see a blessing in disguise. I see council members who don’t understand the real-life impact of $65 million in cuts, which have already begun.

After the failed proposal, Louisville Metro Police Department announced it is canceling three planned recruitment classes, which would represent about 100 new officers according to estimates from the Mayor’s Office.

There will be layoffs and reduced services, fewer yard waste and recycling pickups. Fewer ambulances, fire trucks and firehouses, and closed libraries and community centers. The Louisville Zoo and other public amenities may be privatized — turned into for-profit businesses.

So, here is a proposal.

We jokesters at LEO Weekly had fun with our annual April Fool’s Fake Issue last week. Yet, within a fake Q&A with Fischer, an interesting point was revealed:

Why not force all of the cuts to come from the districts whose representatives voted against the tax plan?

Obviously, this is not good governing because wealthy neighborhoods would reap the benefits of being able to afford public services, while the poorer neighborhoods wouldn’t. But, this strategy does present an interesting question to those on the council who voted against the proposal:

How else is the community supposed to read your “no” vote other than you believe your district would rather cut services than contribute more to keep them?

In other words, the council members who voted against the negotiated proposal need to be the first ones in line to identify what cuts they’d be willing to make from their districts.

What are you willing to sacrifice, Brent?

To this point, the council members who voted in favor of the proposal are the only ones who have expressed a willingness to share the city’s $65 million burden — while those who voted against the plan would rather dictate to everyone else what they should sacrifice. This means the onus is now on the 15 who voted against the measure to find $65 million, formulate a plan, and build consensus around their vision for the future of the city.

From here, it looks awfully dirty... but at least Rand Paul will be happy.