First, politicians should lock in some givens … 1) this is a government-created crisis, 2) governments at all levels are bloated, 3) most of the politicians’ constituents have less income and less net worth than they did prior to this crisis, 4) government employees have pay levels above the private sector, better benefits and almost total job security and 5) legislative bodies have a dismal record on financial matters.
The they should:
Make a major reduction in the level of government pay.
Figure out the percentage that needs to be cut to balance the budget, add 2 percent to the number and require each department head submit a budget that incorporates the reduction. The department heads need to know that anything they offer is truly on the table, so suggesting popular programs for reduction in an attempt to intimidate would be a wrong move.
This will create much gnashing of the teeth and crocodile tears. The reason of the additional 2 percent is to cover areas where the tears are real.
As a former legislator and a former state department head, who had to make a severe cut, it would seem the choice is to let department heads, who actually understand the budget and don’t have constituent pressures, balance the budget, or, leave it in the hands of the lobbyist-controlled legislators. The second choice most likely would be something we should not let our children watch.