On April 8, The Pilot published my column about the “pork” included in the $2.2 trillion “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.” In that article I pointed out over $100 billion of goodies that are unrelated to COVID-19 relief.

Little did we know that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was just getting started with her wish list.

The $3 trillion HEROES Act — Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act — passed the House on May 15. Passage of this bill was likely the most egregious application of power politics in our history.

While the Senate reconvened May 1 after the spring break, Pelosi left the representatives home while she put together the bill. Upon completion, she reconvened the House for an immediate up-or-down vote.

Did they read the bill before voting? That’s unlikely, since it is 1,800 pages long.

What did not happen before the vote was the meeting of a single House committee to take into account expert witnesses’ views. Not a single amendment or input from Republicans was allowed. The bill passed along partisan lines.

The bill directs nearly $1 trillion to state and local governments, including $500 billion for state governments and an additional $357 billion for local governments and counties, mostly in the form of unrestricted aid that doesn’t need to be used to offset coronavirus costs.

One trillion dollars is difficult to comprehend. If you were to spend one dollar per second, it would take you over 32,000 years to spend it all.

On May 18, The Wall Street Journal editorial board provided some insightful thoughts on fiscal responsibility by comparing the states of New York and Florida. The leading lobbyist for Pelosi’s plan is New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His antagonist is Florida Sen. and former Gov. Rick Scott.

Both were first elected governor in 2010. The comparison of their economic planning and fiscal management during the 2010-2019 time-frame tells an enlightening story. In 2010 New York’s population was 19.4 million, while Florida’s was 18.8. While Florida’s population grew 2.7 million over the ensuing 10 years, New York’s increased by only 75,000.

New York has increased spending by $43 billion since 2010, about $570,000 for each additional person. The Florida budget has increased by $28 billion, a $10,400 increase per new resident.

While New York has a top state and local tax rate of 12.7 percent, Florida has no state income tax. New York has a growing budget deficit. Scott inherited a large deficit in 2010 but paid down state debt and built a surplus.

The difference is spending. For example, New York spending on worker retirement benefits has nearly doubled since 2010 and is six times greater than Florida. The cost to service the New York debt has doubled.

New York state and local government debt in 2010 was $317 billion. By 2019 the total has grown to $374 billion and is expected to be $433 billion by 2023.

New York’s biggest cost driver is Medicaid, which is 40 percent of the state budget and twice what it spends on education. By comparison, Florida spends equal amounts on schools and Medicaid.

New York spends about $76 billion a year on Medicaid, three times more than Florida. New York spends about twice as much per Medicaid beneficiary and six times more on nursing homes as Florida, though its elderly population is 20 percent smaller.

New York spending on Medicaid has squeezed spending on transportation, causing trains and roads to fall into disrepair. Conversely Florida has increased transportation spending 10 times more than New York between 2010 and 2019.

Many high-earning individuals are leaving the high taxes of New York. It lost $9.6 billion in adjusted gross income to other states in 2018 while Florida gained $16 billion. The rate of private job growth in Florida has been about 60 percent higher than in New York from 2010 to 2020. Finance jobs expanded by 25 percent in the Sunshine State compared to 9.7 percent in New York.

The awful truth is we may never be able to pay down this new $1 trillion in federal debt, but every year taxpayers have to service the national debt. The policy question here is why taxpayers in Florida and other well-managed states should pay higher taxes to rescue a New York political class that refuses to restrain its tax-and-spend governance.

You, the taxpayer, have a choice here. You can believe how Speaker Pelosi described the bill to the House membership just before they voted, saying, “This is a very strategically planned piece of legislation that is tailored strictly to meet the needs of the American people regarding the coronavirus pandemic. To do anything less would not be responsible.”

Or you can remind yourself it is never a good idea to take Speaker Pelosi at her word. “...strictly to meet the needs” of the American people? Really?

Lt. Gen. Marvin L. Covault, U.S. Army (ret.) is the author of “Vision to Execution,” a book for leaders.

(13) comments

Peyton Cook

Mr.T. I do not support any more funding to ANY of the States. Any additional funding should focus on helping small businesses. Also, I have lived in two States which had no State income tax; Tennessee and Texas.I can assure you that property taxes were not higher than the combined income and property taxes in New York. The Florida pension funds are 83% funded. Lastly, why are New York residents leaving New York for States like Florida where taxes are lower. That’s the reason New York’s population has been stagnant and Florida’s has grown.

Peyton Cook

Those who believe that mismanaged States should be bailed out to the tune of 1 trillion can always donate, but no taxpayer money should be.

Scott Bowers

Mr. Cook, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the trillions the government has poured into "stimulus" to support businesses and the stock market. Something like 6 trillion so far, I've read. For comparison, I read that the $1,200 stimulus checks sent to all Americans total to around 1/3 of a trillion.

Peyton Cook

We were surprised to receive a stimulus check. In fact, I went to the bank to determine that it was real. I plan on putting it back into the economy.

Jim Tomashoff

Which states are the mismanaged states? What criteria should be used to determine that? Simplistic jingoistic statement, which is about all we could expect from you, I guess.

Peyton Cook

You know as well as I do which are mismanaged states. But to assist you, they are states which have been run by Democrats such as New York, Illinois, and California and probably others. They are high-tax, with serious under-funded pension plan. All you have to do is look at the stark contrast between New York and Florida.

Jim Tomashoff

So in other words, you want Congress to pass a bill providing that only states with Republican Governors can receive additional federal assistance. Have I got that right? For what it's worth, Florida has some of the highest state taxes in the Country, including property taxes, because they've chosen not to impose any state income taxes. And, for what it is worth, that state also has a HUGE unfunded pension plan for state workers. So, as usual, you've pretty much called for a patently absurd piece of legislation and gotten a major fact wrong. Don't you EVER do a quick internet search to see if ANY of your facts are even remotely correct? Guess not.

Kent Misegades

It is quite likely that the entire Wuhan flu panic was created by Cuomo and his ilk to save the failing economies of cities and states run for decades by Democrats. Our representatives must be diligent to prevent such states from pushing their debt into others. In fact, New York and other states with high income taxes did this for many years, until Trump insisted that there be on deduction for state income taxes on the federal tax return. For years, high income residents of these states knew that their effective state tax rate would be lowered by the IRS essentially redistributing this tax to states with lower income taxes. Now that this giant loophole has been closed, it’s no wonder wealthy people are bailing out of New York, Massachusetts and California. Hopefully those moving here leave their big government attitudes where they can’t from.

Dan Roman

1) First Kent lie: The thought that the Covid-19 pandemic( which has takes almost 100,000 lives just in the US) was created by Cuomo to save the economy of states run by Democrats is insane, pure and simple.

2) Second Kent lie: The state and local tax deduction (SALT) has existed since the inception of the federal income tax in 1913. There have been modifications reducing the items that could be deducted over the years. The tax plan signed by trump in merely instituted a $10,000 cap on the SALT deduction, which had been previously unlimited. It did not eliminate SALT so the "loophole" hasn't been closed.

Conrad Meyer

Sorry Dan, I think you have a reading comprehension issue. Triggered maybe?

Jim Tomashoff

So you think Cuomo created the Covid-19 pandemic? I mean, that's exactly what Kent said.

Dan Roman

Conrad can't read or can't comprehend/process facts. Dyslexia?

Conrad Meyer

Kent never wrote that the pandemic was created by Cuomo. He used the word "panic", which I believe is accurate.

Agree with you Dan on the SALT deduction. It is merely capped, not eliminated.

I also think that Kent posts quickly (usually first) on the Op/Ed pieces knowing that the liberals will have a hissy fit. He then sits back and is entertained by the responses.

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