Shrink, Shift, Shaft

Facing budget shortfalls in Arizona, a leading state senator announced that legislators were reviewing all state spending and that "nothing was sacred."

But the religious coalition Protecting Arizona's Families responded, "Is nothing truly sacred? What about state programs for the hungry, homeless, and mentally ill children? Do they stand on the same moral ground as subsidies for corporations? And why won't we consider raising taxes on the wealthy before we cut programs on the poor?"

Active Christians and other people of faith are accustomed to weighing in on the morality of public spending and budget choices. Much of our recent attention has been focused on how our tax dollars are being used to advance an imperial foreign policy.

But we should also be alarmed at the changes being legislated to reshape the way our government raises money through federal and local tax systems. Federal tax cuts in 2001, 2002, and 2003 have fueled massive deficits and blocked possibilities for spending on human needs. These tax cuts have "trickled down" to worsen state and local budget deficits, forcing deep cuts in spending on poverty,

health care, and education. Almost every state has been plunged into its worst budget crisis since World War II. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, states are facing budget gaps totaling $85 billion in the coming year.

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Sojourners Magazine April 2004
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