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

Rumbling and rambling on the way to November

The short columns for the upcoming mid-terms.

Shakespeare and sex jokes, Act II

How exactly did you think he became popular with the masses back in the time of the Plague?

Thank you for, Mount Peak Historical Fire Lookout Association supporters

Keep a lookout for future information during this fundraising phase.

An all-American Rockwell scene

I’m not a farmer — I suspect you already know that — but I live on three acres and, given the price of hay trucked from Yakima, there are farmers in the Krain area willing to cut and bale my field.

Freedom of religions doesn’t mean imposing your beliefs on the public

To then allow any person or group to inflict its particular religious beliefs upon others would clearly deny our right to freely worship and follow our own beliefs

Real life, like Risk, requires great self-discipline

My grandkids were fascinated and played with intensity. Two of them formed an alliance against me for a time to keep me from conquering the world. I, of course, took advantage of all the “teachable moments.”

Businesses should serve the public equally

Many a war has started over “deeply held beliefs’ and religious convictions.

Editor failed to be a fair moderator

Instead of framing the issues and allowing the readers to “form their own opinions on the matters at hand,” the editor chose to apply superfluous labels.

“Deeply held beliefs” no excuse for discrimination

Is it not time that we recognize that “deeply held beliefs,” sometimes are simply wrong?

Most Read