Listen to the public conversation that goes on around government budgets, and you’d swear the only important questions are whether they’re balanced, whether they cut taxes and whether they reduce spending.
The impact those budget decisions have on public services? That usually gets lip service — at best.
That’s partly because many media decision-makers are happy to limit budget conversation to conservative turf. But it’s also because it makes for a simple, easy-to-tell story: lines on graphs go up or down, figures are positive or negative, bond rating agencies are happy or grumpy, and dash 30 dash the article’s done.
Stories about the impact those numbers will have on transit services, ambulance response times or your local library’s supply of new books demand a lot more digging, research and analysis. So too often, they just don’t get told – and the growing pressure on services becomes an elephant in the room.