Letters to the Editor

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BUDGET: Our governor is out of touch

Letter by Andy Roberts, Spanaway on Jan. 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm with 62 Comments »
January 18, 2012 10:17 am

With our governor pushing us to approve a tax to keep from having further cuts in public education, it was time to look into the numbers – and it is shocking!

The annual budget 1999-2001 was $45 billion. In 2009-2011 it was $71 billion – a 57 percent increase.

Historic numbers for staff show prior to our current governor, we averaged 34 employees directly to the governor. Now 52 are needed. The budget for the governor increased by $4 million dollars annually since 2005.

WSHCA’s charter is to provide health insurance to the low-income citizens of our state. An annual average budget of $310 million for taking care of those in need has now jumped to $5.4 billion a year! Our state population is only 6.7 million, that works out to be about $800 per person.

More massive budget increases: state auditor – $25 million, Innovate Washington (new in 2011) – $8 million, Forensics Investigations Council – $266 million, Department of Enterprise Services – $477 million, Administrative Office of the Courts – $67 million.

The teachers’ union and the state education system are not without fault. However, in order to have the education system work with the voters and government as a vested party to reshape our state’s obviously failing outdated system, perhaps a best effort attempt in its own house first would be wise.

A 10 percent budget reduction would save over $1.165 billion annually before looking into WSHCA.

Shame on you, governor, and all legislators; you fail!

Leave a comment Comments → 62
  1. Soundlife says:

    Great letter!
    Boy are the loonies gonna hate you citing facts…

  2. ManuelMartini says:

    Andrew – where did you get your “facts”?

  3. took14theteam says:

    The Democrat stronghold has come home to roost….

    Wake up King County.

  4. TheWarpedDog says:

    Manuel – You have to dig deep however all historic and current headcount, expenses and budgets are at: http://fiscal.wa.gov/

    For census info for population info: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/53000.html

    There is a ton of data that when you dive in, clearly show’s the agenda is not the tax payer but another agenda entirely.

  5. TheWarpedDog says:

    Soundlife…I am sure but I could only take the one-sided slam for so long.

    If they can’t stand behind why we are spending $18 BILLION more a year in a massive recession (speculating the retirement fund is full) they need to learn home/business economics. IJS

  6. TheWarpedDog says:

    Vox…yeah, I know huh?

  7. sandblower says:

    So, Mr. Roberts of Spanaway, are you saying that she did this all by herself, which is what the headline implies? I see that you do mention the legislature in passing. Who is it that passes the laws and sets the budgets. I’m not certain you really know. The letter is mostly nonsense. What would you cut Mr. Roberts, beyond what has already been cut?

  8. AnotherThought says:

    “An annual average budget of $310 million for taking care of those in need has now jumped to $5.4 billion a year!”

    A few years ago, HCA was merged with the largest program in DSHS (Medical Assistance) so you can’t fairly compare those two numbers. That said, costs for low income health care have indeed increased during that time (but not this much).

    “More massive budget increases: state auditor – $25 million…”

    Mostly due to the voter approved I-900.

    “…Innovate Washington (new in 2011) – $8 million”

    Again, a merger of an existing agency SIRTI and a program within another agency (WTC) so not really that new…

    “…Forensics Investigations Council – $266 million”

    Don’t you mean $266,000 and not $266 million?

    “…Department of Enterprise Services – $477 million”

    A merger containing pieces of at least three prior agencies (parts of DIS, GA, DOP and, perhaps, OFM)

  9. Hmmmm “Facts” sure take on a different hue went looked at with a different lens. I could probably come up with enough “facts” to prove that the moon is made up of cheese, if I wanted to. (mostly bleu, but some guda) R’s are going to believe what they want to believe and D’s, likewise. Face it folks, Bush pooped on the oval office floor ten minutes after Obama won. We’ve been cleaning up his mess ever since.

  10. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Pap- this is about Oly and the dems failure at running a state. I know the default argument for partisan hacks is to blame Bush, but you are way off base.

    Bottom line is the budget has continued to grow at an unreasonable rate while revenues have flatlined. The excuses and deflection mask what we all know to be true.

  11. harleyrider1 says:

    The Democrats have controlled the legislature for the past several years; there’s just no getting around that. When you have a governor that says, “there is a surplus” two days before her re-election and people continue to vote the party line, for this state, simply it has been the Democrats.

    Now both parties love to play games and spend – and claim they don’t which is why voters need to stop voting party and actually elect someone that will run the state like you do your household. No money? You can’t buy; you don’t spend. And like a business – put some of the profit away for emergency (a real surplus Chris).

    But for now, year of Democrat spending and guidance in this state has not served us all that well, has it?

    Spend, spend, spend. Out of money? Raise taxes and issue fees, then continue spend, spend, spend.

  12. “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
    Mark Twain

    The numbers cited in the letter are shocking, just shocking! And, without any context about the various factors that contribute to those numbers, rather meaningless.

    That isn’t to say that they might say something – but more information is needed.

  13. packerpav says:

    OMG all the comments and worries about “facts”. The bottom line is rather simple. We are spending more and taking in less. And the only thing the King County Governor and her legislature have looked at is lowering future increases. Really!!! The State simply cannot continue to support all of the programs it has in place and entire programs, as worthy as they may be, must go. My wife and I would love to take a cruise vacation, but it’s just not in the budget, so it’s out. We would like to replace the carpet in the house. Sorry, can’t afford it. We used to contribute to a 401K. Can’t do that anymore either. The State is no different. It doesn’t matter how the numbers got to where they’re at. A bunch must go.

  14. ManuelMartini says:

    Warped Dog – So you dug deep to affirm those numbers?

    I maintain that no one, short of a paid shill, would find the number of “employees directly to the governor”. How they attribute what is “directly to the governor” is really beyond reality.

    If you’re not sharp enough to see a hit piece, I can’t convince you.

    Meanwhile, the cost of everything else has gone up, why would the cost of running a government go down?

    Now, the serious part of this – Gregoire isn’t running for office, so all of this is misdirected, if the GOP wants to be effective with their hit.

  15. ManuelMartini says:

    “The State is no different.”

    Sorry, packerpav. The state IS different. The government elected leaders are responsible for following existent laws and for the lives of thousands of state workers, their families and the resulting impact left on the marketplace when arbitrary cuts are made. If you think it’s simple, run for office, get elected and show us how.

  16. The only real fact you could actually dig up about what the State spends and where it spends it is that no factual numbers can be found. The numbers are dependant on who you talk to and what day or circumstance concern the conversation. Remember she stated during a debate there was no deficit in Washington, later she clearified the statement by adding there wasn’t a deficit on the specific day I made the statement because we were still in the previous budget.

    PS: The Bush blame is getting old and really has no effect on our State some four years later.

  17. Andrew S. Roberts wrote the letter; “TNT” wrote the headline . . .

  18. ManuelMartini says:

    “Remember she stated during a debate there was no deficit in Washington, later she clearified the statement by adding there wasn’t a deficit on the specific day I made the statement because we were still in the previous budget.”

    Those who claim to be such researchers still hang on to this old chestnut of a misrepresentation of the true quote.

    How easily the Republicans would like to forget that fateful day in September of 2008 when the bottom fell out, and the subsequent effect on not only the State of Washington’s “budget” but most states in the union.

    To stipulate that what happened under Bush – incredible spending without taxation to pay for it – doesn’t count four years later is to perpetuate the lack of knowledge of government funding.

  19. I haven’t comment on this topic until now, because when I first read the letter above, the first thing that threw me off was this:

    The annual budget 1999-2001 was $45 billion. In 2009-2011 it was $71 billion – a 57 percent increase.

    Now, I usually never trust any letter that throws out statistics without any attribution. The author NEVER says “I got these numbers from…” or “You can look up these numbers at…” For all I know the author could have made these numbers up, or pulled them out of his…. (hat?)

    And, in this particular case, can somebody please explain to me how the “Annual Budget” which I assume means “the budget for one year,” can cover the years 1999, 2000 & 2001, and the other “annual budget” can cover the years 2009, 2010 & 2011?

    That either looks like a Three Year Budget, or maybe the author is saying that for each of the three years the budget was $45b EACH, and for each of the other three years the budget was $71b EACH, or maybe he’s saying the budget amounts for those two three year periods averaged per year.

    Which is it?

    Whatever it is, it’s a very poorly written letter that really doesn’t convince me of anything except the writers lack of ability to adequately explain his case.

  20. tree_guy says:

    There’s no need to get caught up in all the specific numbers. The government at every level, including the state level is overpaying workers. This is the result of an unholy relationship between the employees unions and the legislative negotiators who take campaign contributions and endorsements from the very groups they are supposed to be negotiating with. This violates the very fundamental requirement that the parties remain at “arm’s length.” The resulting price of labor can only be described as an unsustainable giveaway. All this talk of inflation rates, population distributions, etc. is just smoke and mirrors.

  21. Andrew never accounts for inflation and population growth.

    Nor does he account for voter approved taxes for transportation spending.

    Nor does he account for voter approved money for the auditor’s office and teacher salary increases.

    Nor does he account for the voter approved limit on property taxes going forward.

  22. klthompson says:

    I don’t think it is incumbent on the letter writer to cite the source of whatever numbers are presented. Everyone is better served to look up the numbers themselves and learn in the process of doing so. To indulge in a useless blame game is futile. Every person of voting age in this state is responsible for the present mess in the state and the country. Get over it and get on with making the necessary corrections.

  23. ManuelMartini says:

    “There’s no need to get caught up in all the specific numbers. The government at every level, including the state level is overpaying workers.”

    A nice statement on the part of someone with his butt firmly planted in his nice warm house while DOT, State Patrol and other state employees are out in the middle of this storm taking care of your needs.

    Wisconsin is recalling their governor for such a line of thinking.

  24. Now, I usually never trust any letter that throws out statistics without any attribution.

    See the Washington state fiscal web site.

    http://fiscal.wa.gov/expenditures.aspx

    “And, in this particular case, can somebody please explain to me how the “Annual Budget” which I assume means “the budget for one year,” can cover the years 1999, 2000 & 2001, and the other “annual budget” can cover the years 2009, 2010 & 2011?”

    The state budget is for two years. It starts in July and ends in June. So it would start July 2009 and end June 2011.

  25. ManuelMartini says:

    “I don’t think it is incumbent on the letter writer to cite the source of whatever numbers are presented.”

    In that case I’ll say anything I want and it’s up to you to prove me wrong.

    The state economy is due to the position of Uranus and Neptune.

  26. ManuelMartini says:

    good catch pawl.

    There is no annual budget.

    A pretty good sign that we have a partisan hit piece on our hands.

  27. “All this talk of inflation rates, population distributions, etc. is just smoke and mirrors.”

    I disagree.

  28. hansgruber says:

    I agree the Gov is out of touch, but for far more better reasons.

  29. pawl, even you would agree there is a big difference between a “letter” and a “fiscal report” right?

    And a “two year budget” is still not an “Annual Budget,” right?

    Just saying, BS is BS, right?

    (BS = Basic Standards)

    and kithompson: “Every person of voting age in this state is responsible for the present mess in the state and the country. ”

    NOT ME! I didn’t do it!!! You take the blame if you want to, but don’t point your finger of blame my way. I am not sharing the responsibility for YOUR mistakes. No way! I have voted CORRECTLY in every election, and if the state and the fed had done as I wanted them to, well, this would be The United States of Utopia baby!

  30. You want some stats try these……Between 2004 and 2008, Democrats cranked up state spending by 34%, while inflation during that period was just 13% and the state population only grew by 6-7%. That’s from John Barnes in the Seattle Public Policy Examiner. Old news but the beat goes on for the Democrats in this state.

  31. alindasue says:

    tree_guy said, “There’s no need to get caught up in all the specific numbers. The government at every level, including the state level is overpaying workers.”

    How do you know that without specific numbers? Or is this a “don’t confuse me with facts” situation?

    This particular union represented “publicly paid employee” (myself) is paid just over $10 per hour and has no paid holidays and less than a week “vacation” per year – but as you say, “specific numbers” don’t matter, eh. I’m just “overpaid” because you say I am.

    Actually, I liked ManuelMartini’s response even better and consider it worth repeating: “A nice statement on the part of someone with his butt firmly planted in his nice warm house while DOT, State Patrol and other state employees are out in the middle of this storm taking care of your needs.”

  32. alindasue says:

    muckibr said, “NOT ME! I didn’t do it!!! You take the blame if you want to, but don’t point your finger of blame my way. I am not sharing the responsibility for YOUR mistakes. No way! I have voted CORRECTLY in every election, and if the state and the fed had done as I wanted them to, well, this would be The United States of Utopia baby!”

    “…The United States of Utopia…”
    Now THAT’S funny!

    Seriously, though, I think we all tend to feel that way, eh. When it comes down to it though, we all have to work together and find the compromises that work best for the overall population. We aren’t going to find that by sticking to one party line or another.

  33. tree_guy says:

    “Or is this a “don’t confuse me with facts” situation?” alindasue

    Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2012/01/17/our-governor-is-out-of-touch/#comments#storylink=cpy

    no confusion here alindasue. look down any db listing of goverment salaries and (with the exception of your particular job) an awful lot of the positions seems to be way overpaid. We’ll never know how much we could save by letting the market set these wages unless we are willing to try it. However, most government employees would probably stay on the job even if the pay was cut by a significant amount, perhaps 20%. There are virtually no private sector jobs to absorb these people so they aren’t in a position to complain.

  34. cargilekm says:

    If we are in such bad fiscal shape as a state. Then why are there so many people moving here from other states?

  35. Between 2004 and 2008, Democrats cranked up state spending by 34%, while inflation during that period was just 13% and the state population only grew by 6-7%

    You are correct in that the state increased spending over the inflation rate and population growth rate during the flush with cash housing bubble period, especially 2004-2005. However, some of that increased spending was due to the voter approved gas tax?

    Note however, spending has not kept up with inflation and population growth from 2005 to 2011, due to the great recession and the property tax limit.

  36. “When it comes down to it though, we all have to work together and find the compromises that work best for the overall population.”

    Absolutely alindasue!

    And if all you guys would all vote the way I have voted, then we wouldn’t have any of the problems we have now! So STRAIGHTEN UP!

    But seriously folks, that was sarcasm, the fact is: none of us here has the solution to ALL the problems of the state. But, it would be a lot more helpful if people would suggest possible solutions and ideas to fix this or that, rather than just keep bitchin’ and always complaining about the poor job everybody else is doing!

    If there are people here who are so damn brilliant and smarter that the governor, senators or the rep/legislators, then why haven’t you run for office?

    If you don’t have a good positive idea that will help fix things, then why don’t you just “stay silent”?

  37. cargilekm says:

    It is always easier to complain than to actually find workable solutions.

  38. tree_guy says:

    I just suggested an across the board 20% pay cut for all government employees except alindasue. That’s not a complaint, it’s a workable solution. A solution you don’t like or are unwilling to accept is not therefore “unworkable.”

  39. cargilekm says:

    Okay, interesting suggestion, how many Republicans are willing to lose 20% of their pay for the state to spend on other programs?
    that is how it would turn out. Not a real solution.

  40. tree_guy says:

    Okay, interesting suggestion, how many Republicans are willing to lose 20% of their pay for the state to spend on other programs?

    Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2012/01/17/our-governor-is-out-of-touch/#comments#storylink=cpy

    If people work for the state they would get a 20% pay cut regardless of whether they are Republicans or Democrats. This is an equal opportunity pay cut proposal designed to bring costs in line with expected revenues.

  41. cargilekm says:

    But to accomplish the cut you would have to have Republican leadership demand their pay be cut and to make and get passed the appropriate law. Making it almost impossible for Democrats to not support them in such a effective method of governance and budget cutting.

  42. cargilekm says:

    Those that don’t want to take the cut could quit their jobs and we shouldn’t replace them. Even more savings for the next budget deficit next year.

  43. tree_guy says:

    My solution is entirely workable…but only for legislators who want to take a bold approach to current problems. If they prefer to anguish for years over how to prop up an unsustainable budget then that is a less bold approach.

  44. ManuelMartini says:

    If you cut State employees wages 20% and the resulting impact on the market lowered spending standards accordingly and businesses were able to pay 20% less for all their needs – products, buildings, services, etc – the insuing crash in the market would have people like tree_guy moaning and wailing. The next complaint would be having to hold on line too long to get the services they want.

    Be careful what you ask for.

  45. ManuelMartini says:

    Here’s a bold appoach – cut housing, all rents, gasoline, electrical, etc by 20% and let those industries get by on less profit.

  46. cargilekm says:

    How true, but it would give the right their way and still let them complain about unresponsive government. A Republican UTOPIA.

  47. ManuelMartini says:

    The committment to balancing the budget by a tax increase would be far less impactful on the voters than the depression that would result in arbitrary cuts.

    The past few years have demonstrated this well, but some people refuse to learn

  48. gonefishin69690 says:

    Manuel, tree guy, how about a combination of both??

  49. tree_guy says:

    “…the insuing crash in the market would have people like tree_guy moaning and wailing’ ManuelKardini

    Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2012/01/17/our-governor-is-out-of-touch/#comments#storylink=cpy

    I’ll take the possiblity of “crash” in the market over the almost certainty of our state being plunged into insolvency. There is no taxing scheme the Democrats can think of that will ever cover the desired level of spending. Better to institute a bold cost cutting approach. An across the board payroll cut would be the fairest. People who don’t like their new salary can always work in the private sector.

  50. ManuelMartini says:

    “I’ll take the possiblity of “crash” in the market over the almost certainty of our state being plunged into insolvency.”

    No reason for insolvency. Raise the cost to the consumer like businesses always do.

    You are already seeing the “crash” and you don’t like it now, tell us how you’ll stop whining when it worsens.

    The lack of revenue for the state is directly proportionate to the lack of spending power by the citizenry. Such is life with a sales tax.

  51. ManuelMartini says:

    Oh…and then when the spending power, reduced 20%, decreases the tax base an additional 20%, you’ll have 20% less revenue with which to provide government services. On and on, et al.

    Is that something like “insolvency”?

    We know that Grover calls it “starve the beast”, but Grover is paid for rhetoric. Rhetoric won’t save your house or your life when you need government services.

  52. ManuelMartini says:

    “People who don’t like their new salary can always work in the private sector.”

    By moving to Taiwan or Viet Nam? The job creators don’t like paying living wages in the US.

    Oh wait. I know. “The Job Creators” will rescue everyone. They’ve been doing such a great job with their tax cuts for the past 10 years.

  53. I have an idea. How about the counties that tend to lean Republican and spend more of the states tax money than they bring in according to an OFM report learn to live within their means and counties like King County that spend less of the states tax money than they bring in to balance the budgets. Just a thought.

  54. concernedtacoma7 says:

    ‘cut x by 20% and let them get by on less profit…’

    What is the profit margin on those goods you stated? Ignorant comment.

    Typical evil business comment from kard. Grow up

  55. cargilekm says:

    red counties in this state live off the welfare of the blue counties.
    real equity would be to let them receive the same rate of return from the state as the rate of return given the blue counties. I’am tired of paying for the red counties. they should have to learn to live off what they earn and not the taxes paid by the blue county taxpayers.
    this redistribution of the wealth of the blue county taxpayers has to end.
    this kind of socialism is unamerican.

  56. ManuelMartini says:

    hebie – start with Lewis County, who boasts the lowest tax base in the state, but when they flood next week, they’ll be turning to the rest of us for help.

  57. AnotherThought says:

    Tree Guy:

    Your 20% wouldn’t solve the problem.

    Even in a down economy, doctors, nurses and pharmacists have other employment options. You can’t run a state hospital without medical staff. The same is true of prisons.

    Even in a down economy, top tier faculty at places like the UW have lots of other options. The same is true at places like WSU and WWU…

    The same is true in information technology (where tech companies are starting to hire) and will soon be true with jobs like correctional officers, state troopers, etc.

    In addition: 1) Neither management nor labor can impair a current labor agreement; 2) A 20% reduction to state employee salaries would not come anywhere close to solving the budget problem (state employee salaries are a much smaller percentage of costs than most assume).

  58. Is an across the board 20% cut in government budgets all anyone can come up with?

    How about if the state sold off the state ferry system to private investors, so that it could make a massive cut in the DOT budget and also generate some revenue from the sale of all those boats and the maintenance costs to keep them running?

    Anyone got a problem with that?

  59. pantomancer says:

    The Kalakala just sold for $1.

  60. cargilekm says:

    you can’t sell the ferry system. No one would want to buy a ferry system that would never be able to clear a profit with. In order to make a profit, you would have to eliminate many routes and raise prices on the rest. The same as the state has to do. And even more to provide a real profit. those who use the ferries couldn’t afford the fares and the system would go bankrupt. Then the state economy would take another spiral downwards. If private industry could make money on ferry systems, then you would see them at other places in the country. If a real profit can be made, a business person will find a way to get at it. the lack of such shows that there is no such profit to be made.

  61. Isn’t that similar to some of the arguments that said you can’t use commercial airplanes to transport small packages around the country, it would be way too expensive, people couldn’t afford the prices, and it would fail and go bankrupt. But then came FedEx!!!

    There could be a way for someone to make a profit running a ferry system. But, it probably won’t be discovered by the state government.

  62. Here’s another GREAT IDEA from a new thread that just opened up…

    Meighan says: I tallied the five highest paid coaches in Washington state and, if their salaries were dropped to $400,000 per year, the savings would be over $3 million. The university’s president makes $550,000, so why should one coach make almost four times that of the boss?

    Go see EDUCATION: Cut university coaches’ salaries, for more on this great idea!!!

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