If Rob Ford hadn’t cut or cancelled all those taxes, we’d have enough to cover the entire budget hole without eliminating a single bus route, library hour or arts grant, without laying off a single staff member, and without drawing on reserves.
Just to repeat so it’s perfectly straightforward: Dollar-for-dollar, every single cut in the 2012 operating budget was made necessary by Rob Ford’s 2011 tax cuts. Period.
An unnamed “top official in Rob Ford’s office” told Robyn Doolittle of the Toronto Star that this was the plan from the beginning. In November 2010, he said that because of the tax cuts, the “safety net” would be gone: “Councillors will be forced to approve whatever we put forward.”
There are many Torontonians who think the city overspends on staff salaries, grants to community groups, bike lanes, transit and all kinds of other things. That’s fine. An honest politician could make that case, and cut those services deemed unnecessary or unwanted. And then, with the savings, that honest politician could either redirect the money to more necessary programs or cut taxes. Plenty of people would disagree loudly with those decisions, but at least the process would be prudent and truthful.
Instead, Ford cut revenue first so that a “crisis” would force us to cut services even if we thought they were necessary or desirable. It’s as if you looked at your household budget, decided that your spouse’s decision to buy organic vegetables rather than regular ones was making it a challenge to get ahead, and then quit your job as the first step to solving that spending problem. You could try to blame your sudden inability to pay the mortgage on your spouse’s gourmet-food habit, but it would remain obvious that your decision to eliminate income was the real cause of the crisis.
That’s what Rob Ford has done here. He calls it “respect for taxpayers,” but it looks more like a giant scam being perpetrated on the citizens of Toronto.