WASHINGTON MONUMENT BUDGETING. This article in the San Francisco Chronicle (July 21) by Wyatt Buchanan raises the possible political effects arising from the discovery of the $54 million in Park Department accounts on future requests by Governor Brown for tax increases. Buchanan writes: “The governor used the threat of park closures as part of the narrative of the state’s desperate financial crisis even as some critics said it was merely a strategy to inflict unnecessary pain on the public to drum up support for new taxes.” Kids, this is a reference to what is sometimes referred to as Washington Monument budgeting: when a government agency (or a department in a corporation) is asked to cut its budget, it can adopt the tactic of threatening to cut its most popular programs, such as closing the Washington Monument. A local school district may threaten to shut down the athletic teams or the music programs. The abstract theory of budgeting will often assume that an agency head will cut marginal expenditures, but the theory assumes that the department doesn’t have more complicated motivations.

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