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A public budget is political because it reflects political priorities. How taxpayer dollars are spent is always a question of priorities because there are never unlimited funds available to government. Consequently, the budget must pick and choose amongst the possible ways in which money is spent. There are many examples in the news of how budgeting is political. One example is the federal budget. Some politicians advocate more money for defense and less for education while others advocate for the converse. Even the size of the budget is a political issue today because depending on one's political position, one is in favor of small government or large government, seeking a reduced budget for the former or an expanded budget for the latter. In Pennsylvania, there is a current controversy because the state budget provides massive funds for building a new state prison and a simultaneous cutback in funds for education, such that over 3,000 people in the Philadelphia School District have lost their jobs. This budget reflects the political priorities of this particular state at this particular time. It would be wonderful, certainly, to have a budgeting process that was above politics, but given the constraints of our resources, I cannot imagine how this could ever happen.
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