In my opinion, The Advocate's criticism of state Rep. Cameron Henry was both unfair and ill-informed. Government spending should not be increased based on "projected additional revenues because of an improving economy" for three reasons.
First, "projections" of an improving economy, which would produce additional tax money collected by the government, should not be counted on in advance. That's like planning to spend a raise that you think you might get — but you aren't sure about it and you haven't gotten it yet. Plan how to spend it when you actually have it, not before. That makes more sense.
Second, it is unwise to plan additional spending because government employees or contractors forecast that the economy is "improving." That can turn around very quickly. Indeed, oil prices, which are tied to much of the state's tax receipts, were much higher just a few months ago, in September, when they were about $80 a barrel. Today, they are about $60. How many of the expert economists saw that coming in September?
And third, if the state government actually does collect more in taxes than it anticipates in the next year or two that money should be given back to the taxpayers in the form of a refund, as opposed to being spent by the government. As a realist, I understand that when the government spends more money on something, however laudable the announced goal, the truth is that much of that money is wasted and another large chunk is political patronage paid to garner support for the politicians who authorized the spending.
For these reasons, I think The Advocate owes Cameron Henry, who is looking out for hard-working taxpayers, an apology.