I've cross-posted my latest blog post below.
Tax Hikes in Washington State Now a Reality
Gov. Gregoire breaks her campaign promise
by KELI CARENDER April 26 ,2010
"I won't raise taxes in tough economic times. We're not going to be raising taxes."
Famous last words.
Friday, April 23, 2010 marks the day that Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire signed a new package of tax hikes into law. It also marks the day that she broke her pledge to avoid raising taxes, especially during the recession. Via the AP:
Calling it a "sensible and modest" solution to Washington's historic budget crisis, Gov. Chris Gregoire on Friday approved a revenue package that nets roughly $780 million to avoid deeper cuts in education, health care and human services.The author neglects to question two very important assertions made by Governor Gregoire. The first is, do Washingtonians really need more taxes in order to avoid cutting education, health care and human services further? According to her, yes. According to the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF), no, and not by a long shot. In fact, EFF found mountains of wasteful spending that Governor Gregoire and the Democrats running Olympia refuse to acknowledge, let alone cut.
So while the Governor attempts to frighten Washington residents into accepting multiple tax hikes this year, and most likely again next year, she and other Democrats in Olympia spend money on items like golf resorts. As Amber Gunn of EFF points out:
Today, taxpayers are being told that the choice is between people losing their feet and going homeless, or higher taxes. Is this really the debate we are going to have this session? Then perhaps the governor's budget team could quantify how many feet could be saved with money the state is spending on the $20,000 capitol holiday tree, the $30,000 state poet laureate, the $3 million capital investment in the museum of Flight Space Gallery in Seattle or $511,000 for the Chambers Bay golf resort in Tacoma. Sure, these few waste items won't save the budget, but it does illustrate the dysfunction of a system that puts those priorities above the ones the governor is claiming will have to be cut.So let us dispense with the myth that cutting government spending automatically means states must make devastating cuts in education, health care, and protective services like police and first responders. Why does the Governor insist on cutting so-called "vital" services when she refuses to cut out the garbage first? If the AP author had done his job correctly, he would have asked that question first.
The second assertion that the author fails to challenge is the idea that the Democrats in Olympia somehow, miraculously, and against all odds, were able to solve a $9 billion deficit without raising taxes.
This year's budget was a tune-up of the main two-year state budget, which lasts through mid-2011. Democrats solved a roughly $9 billion deficit in the two-year budget in 2009 without raising taxes.This claim is outright laughable. It is also a very real, and very unfortunate problem that plagues governors across the nation. Many of our country's Governors will claim that the state has a deficit of astronomical proportions, but they promise to do everything they can to solve the problem without raising taxes. The only complication here is that those huge deficits are frequently, literally made up. From Bob Williams of EFF:
Legislators of both parties allow bureaucrats to report a budget shortfall as the difference between what the governor wants to spend (not the current budget) vs the revenue forecast. We have not found any state that reports a shortfall as the difference between the current level of spending and the revenue forecast. Thus, most shortfalls are highly inflated.So in reality, Governor Gregoire wanted to spend $9 billion more than the state was slated to collect in revenue. That is, the revenue that pays for existing and current programs and services. The dishonest and disingenuous part of this political theater is that she tried to make Washingtonians think that they were $9 billion underwater on current expenses, when in fact they are running a roughly $2.8 billion shortfall - due to increased spending, year after year, despite negative revenue forecasts - but that is just another piece of the puzzle.
Therefore, claiming that the Democrats and Gov. Gregoire were able to solve a nonexistent $9 billion deficit is laughable at best, and irresponsible, ignorant, partisan journalism at worst. Keep an eye out for more budget gimmicks and scare tactics as Gov. Gregoire realizes her recent tax hikes will not solve her problem of bloated and ineffective government.