In Monday's editorial it was suggested governments need a different budgeting approach. Instead of trying to keep everything on life support, agencies and programs should be prioritized. Funding should match the priority.
It was suggested the top two categories be called "a matter of life and death" and "essential but not a matter of life and death." The bottom two categories would be "useful but not essential" and "not the responsibility of government."
Today we offer some specifics. These are examples and are not all-inclusive as it would take numerous pages to go agency by agency and program by program. Also, even though an area may be in the top two categories, that doesn't mean it should be given a blank check and allowed to overspend. But it should have sufficient funds to accomplish its mission.
Examples of what we would place in the top two categories at the city and county level include Emergency Services (police, sheriff, fire, emergency medical, courts), utilities and infrastructure (water, sewer, garbage collection and streets) and education.
At the top categories at the state level, we would place the cops, courts and prisons (State Patrol, Supreme Court and the Department of Corrections), education (K-12, community colleges and universities), health and consumer protection (insurance commissioner, attorney general, Department of Health and Human Services) and infrastructure. These are services that do for people what they can't do for themselves - and that aren't feasible or appropriate for private businesses.
At the national level, the top categories would be, to quote the Constitution, "... establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare ..." That means such things as the military; the courts; civil rights; programs to take care of people in hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters; and efforts to protect public health.
Even in the top categories, there are programs and expenses that would be in the bottom two categories. At the city and county level, funding for such things as parking enforcement, the aviary, city youth programs and extra-curricular activities at the schools. Again, it isn't that these things aren't useful and nice to have, but they aren't "a matter of life or death" or "essential." And there are other viable means of funding, such as dues or private fundraising, rather than making it the responsibility of government.
The state could stop spending money for "public art" every time it does a construction project. The Legislature could do its job within its allotted time frames and not spend money on special sessions.
At the national level, close the Department of Education and Homeland Security. Education is the responsibility of the states and local governments, not the federal government. Homeland Security is a joke. It duplicates efforts better handled in other departments. Also, eliminate subsidies for tobacco growers and stop buying weapons the military doesn't want.
These are some of our thoughts for a starting point. What are yours?