Anyone earning 25 percent more?

A couple of weeks ago I attended a town hall where a trio of eastside legislators warned darkly about the huge deficits facing state government right now. The current estimated shortfall: about $ 9 billion.

  • Tuesday, March 24, 2009 2:49am
  • Opinion

Political

Columnist

A couple of weeks ago I attended a town hall where a trio of eastside legislators warned darkly about the huge deficits facing state government right now. The current estimated shortfall: about $ 9 billion.

What they did not say is that the shortfall is actually the gap between what legislators now anticipate receiving from taxpayers in the next two years compared to what they wanted to spend on patching the deficit in the current budget and then pay for an even bigger upcoming budget.

Six years ago, the governor and Legislature put the government on a collision course with economic reality that made this financial crash inevitable. Well, not exactly inevitable. If the economy and real estate prices kept growing like they were three years ago, we’d be fine. Then again, so would Wa Mu and Lehman Bros. But I digress….

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s first budget alone raised state spending more than 17 percent. The budget she proposed a couple months ago, a little more than $33.5 billion, would have raised it an additional 12 percent – more than four times the inflation rate. How can our government raise spending that much during a recession and hope to pay for it? In six short years, the governor has proposed a 42 percent increase in government spending.

Keep in mind, I’m actually being kind to both the governor and Legislature. I’m counting only the general fund budget, and leaving out the so called “near general fund budget” that adds programs paid by targeted fees and taxes. That figure is already above $33 billion now, and the governor wanted to raise it to $37 billion.

The good news is that the state will actually receive a little more money in the next two years than it has in the previous two years (just less than $30 billion). The further good news is that after six years of explosive (42 percent) growth, it should be relatively easy to see where cutbacks can be made. The bad news is that the elected officials who must make these cutbacks are the ones responsible for the spending growth in the first place, and they prefer addition to subtraction. They will make an impassioned case for raising taxes for a “balanced approach” to the budget crisis. But even if the upcoming budget was no bigger than the current one, state spending would still have risen by 26 percent in six years. Why, exactly, is 26 percent growth over six years unreasonable? How many of you reading this make a quarter more than you did in 2003?

More in Opinion

Teachers seeking pay raise; districts resist

They’re talking 15 percent for all certificated staff and 37 percent for the classified education support professionals they represent.

Thank you for the fun holiday contests

And I would also like to thank Olsens Meats for supplying the corned beef and ham for the winners.

Election tampering anger could unite county’s voters

Having a common enemy is an effective means to cover over differences between political ideologies and unite the nation against a common foe.

Thanks for an awesome bingo night

Byron Kibler PTA would like to thank the following local businesses (in… Continue reading

Thank you, Enumclaw Schools Foundation

With the grant we were awarded we were able to purchase books for 20 students.

Voting for Trump not “a mistake”

Trump had 81 signed legislative accomplishments in his first year, breaking the record set by President Harry S. Truman.

NRA is not the root of the violence problem

How about writing a column addressing that question instead of just finger pointing?

Save the Enumclaw pool

I believe by knowing the pool’s benefits, a vast majority of greater Enumclaw would still support the now Enumclaw Aquatic Center.

Plan with the end in mind

That foresight into the future was a real advantage to me when raising my own children.

Most Read