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It’s right there on the front page of the newspaper: The governor’s got a $3.4 billion hole in the budget to wrestle to the ground and fill – so she’s cut spending $1.3 billion a year.

But there are two other numbers in the newspaper that are peculiar.

$21.4 billion – which is what the state is spending this year.

And $21 billion – which is what Governor Perdue says the state has to spend next year.

In fact, the precise difference between this year’s and next year’s budget is $360 million. A reduction in spending of two-tenths of one percent.

And consider this: Under the governor’s new budget 268 state employees ‘could’ lose their jobs – out of 275,000. That’s a reduction of one-tenth of one percent.

So why’s everyone still howling about a $3.4 billion hole in the budget – and how on earth can the governor say she’s cutting $1.3 billion a year – if spending’s only dropping $360 million?

I guess there’s plenty of room to argue what is and is not a cut – for instance, some folks say if the state needs to increase health care spending a billion dollars (to cover increased costs) and can’t – that’s a cut. They’ve got a case and some people agree and some don’t.

But with all the howling about $3.4 billion deficits and billion-dollar cuts just about everyone’s lost track of the fact state government is going to be spending essentially the same amount next year – as it spent this year.

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