At this writing, another budget stalemate is being threatened as Republicans in Congress clash with the Democratic White House over the federal budget surplus.
The battle lines being drawn are nothing new: The conservatives want to use the surplus to reduce taxes, while the liberals want to use it to finance programs.
But a recent survey of California business leaders throws a new wrinkle into the traditional political gamesmanship. Business leaders, usually the staunchest backers of GOP tax cuts, may not want those cuts after all.
The 10th annual Business Climate Survey and Executive Summary, released last month by the California Business Roundtable and the California Chamber of Commerce, shows tax cuts are low on the list of priorities of California business chiefs , ranking only fifth on the top six priorities for the state.
Instead, the survey reveals executives want more spending to improve K-12 education and school facilities, increase water storage and reduce traffic congestion, before they want tax cuts.
The survey questioned only California business leaders, but with this state experiencing its own budget surplus the study’s findings might serve as a weather vane for the nation, too.
Several earlier studies show business leaders across the nation are beginning to realize that education and infrastructure are key components in their companies’ ability to remain competitive.
Well-educated and skilled workers have become a scarcity in this country, while a crumbling infrastructure is making it difficult to receive raw materials and ship new products on time. In arid Southwestern states, the availability of water has become a crucial factor in deciding where to locate firms.
All this has become the price we pay for the political games long played in state capitals as well as Washington.
Improving education, building schools, improving roads and water systems have been too easy to overlook when legislators are bombarded by the high-priced lobbying of special interest groups. But without these vital parts of the foundation, it is impossible to continue building a competitive economy.
Legislators from both parties in Washington should pay heed to the findings of the Business Roundtable survey. We can no longer afford these budgetary stalemates and the harm they do to the basics of our economic survival.