Across The Board Budget Cutting Is Not So Simple

Mar 3, 2014

Credit IGPA

When politicians talk about budgets, someone invariably brings up the idea of across the board spending cuts.   It's easy to understand.  it also plays into an inherent fear of big government.

WUIS'  Sean Crawford talked with Chris Mooney, the Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.   Mooney wrote about the topic as part of a new project called the Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox. 

Mooney says across the board cutting is more complicated than it seems.

"It's a great talking point in a campaign or a brochure," he said.  "But it doesn't allow you to differentiate between programs that are working well and programs that are not working well. There is something to be said in times of austerity, you can use that as a tool to cut back on programs that aren't working."

"When the budget is rising, the way it gets made is you just add on some (money) and everything that's in there stays in there," he said.  "When you have to cut, it forces you to look at the pros and cons of programs."

Mooney goes on to say across the board cuts simply lock in priorities of previous years. 

The new Toolbox is a site designed to provide information and analysis on budget policy.