Will Demands Outstrip Resources?

If there’s a law of economics that is empirically verifiable, it may be this: the appetite for more goodies is insatiable. That includes items paid for by taxes.

Is it possible to have “too much” education? Health care?

The Kansas City Star, in analyzing the start of the legislative session, brings home an obvious point: without the legislature focused on dealing with the demands of the state’s supreme court, the ability “to dream” may outstrip the ability “to pay,” even with the significant reserves that the state has at the moment.

Without a ready-made crisis awaiting lawmakers, they are instead compiling wish lists that, at the very least, guarantee the session will have something for everyone:

Renewable energy. Affordable health care. The $700 million maintenance backlog at state universities. Economic development. Gambling. All-day kindergarten. Stem-cell research. Tax relief. The state’s burgeoning prison population.

[snip]

One key challenge may be avoiding the temptation to drain the state’s suddenly healthy bank account, which is many millions of dollars above last year’s estimates.

The Legislature still has to make sure it pays for the second and third years of the $466 million school finance plan passed last year. Old debts are coming due. The cost of providing social service programs to the poor and disabled continues to rise.

“The revenue increase has been phenomenal,” said Sen. John Vratil, a Leawood Republican. “…But we still have more demands on our available resources than we have available resources.”

Source: Wish lists offer something for everyone, Kansas City Star, January 8.

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