WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Democrats joined forces late Thursday night to reject a Republican-led floor motion that would have required them to produce a balanced budget by 2023.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) made a motion to commit S. Con. Res. 8 back to the Budget Committee with instructions to report back no later than March 22, 2013 with such changes as may be necessary to achieve unified budget balance by fiscal year 2023, according to Congressional records.
The motion was defeated on a 46 to 53 vote.
Sen. Angus S. King Jr., an un-enrolled Democrat and former Maine governor, joined with Democrats to oppose the resolution which provided Congress ten years to balance the federal budget.
King is one of five current Democratic Senators, including Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Timothy Kaine (D-Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Tom Carper (D-De.) – who are former governors from states that are required to have balanced budgets each year. Only Manchin joined with Republicans to support a balanced federal budget.
King’s stance on balancing the federal budget is especially interesting given the ads he ran during the election touting him as a balancer of budgets.
TRANSCRIPT: “There they go again. Out-of-staters who care nothing for Maine have another deceptive ad on the air. This one says I raised taxes and left a deficit. Neither is true. When I was governor we cut taxes 18 times and there was no deficit. Paying the bills, fixing the roads, and putting money in the rainy day fund isn’t wasteful spending. These guys are desperate. I think the idea of a Senator they don’t own has them scared. I’m Angus King. I balanced the budget. And I approve this message.”
According to King, who is originally from out-of-state, he left behind neither pot-holes nor debt. But did he balance the budget? The following graph, which is available at MaineOpenGov.org, shows how total compensation of state employees grew when King was governor of Maine.
In 1997, two years after King became Governor, the state of Maine had just 53 employees making more than $100,000 per year. The year King left office, the state employed 141 $100,000k earners. Similarly, the state employed 1,563 individuals making more than $50,000 per year in 1997. By 2003, that number had swelled to 5,190. That King “balanced the budget” at the same time the state payroll was growing exponentially was an impressive feat.
In truth, King’s administration spent through a mammoth surplus and left behind not a real deficit, but an enormous projected deficit. According to the Morning Sentinel, which is majority owned by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and her husband S. Donald Sussman, King’s claim to being a budget balancer is not exactly true. While taxes were cut 18 times on King’s watch, they were also raised seven times. And, according to the Maine Sentinel,“there’s is no disputing that when he left office, income was projected to fall about $1 billion short of expenditures.”
The result of King’s reign over Maine was explosive growth in state payroll, snow-balling hospital debt, enormous projected deficits, and renewable portfolio standards that spiked electricity costs — but he did deliver a “balanced” budget.
Thursday night King voted with Senate Democrats against balancing the federal budget. In the following video, Senator Sessions pleads with his Democratic colleagues to support a motion to simply balance the federal budget in ten years:
By S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter