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BUDGET: Get the money out of politics

Letter by Molly Gibbs, Olympia on March 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm with 21 Comments »
March 8, 2012 1:01 pm

What happened in the state Capitol last week goes down in state history as a dark hour. Three Democratic state senators, Jim Kastama, Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom, joined the Republicans in attempt to further slash the draconian budget. Rather than taxing the wealthy, who pay the lowest taxes in history, politicians gut human services to the disabled and the poor.

Somehow helping those in need is a deplorable moral concern to the 1 percent. The question is: Will the people let the Legislators get away with using our tax dollars to feed the insatiable corporate giants?

In Colorado Springs recently, the town was up in arms about a budget “deficit.” The response was to abolish municipal jobs, which had decent salaries and benefits, and privatize the work. Now people are hired at greatly reduced salaries, without health care or pensions. Is this what we want here?

This is at the heart of what is broken in the political system: greed, and an insatiable addiction to power. Huge corporations are running the government, and they are not human beings, although the U.S. Supreme Court majority thinks so.

Several Tacoma groups join with us to encourage municipal governments to create resolutions to Congress to abolish corporate “personhood” and restore human rights. This a nonpartisan issue. Independents, Republicans and Democrats agree that corporations should have no role in buying an election.

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Leave a comment Comments → 21
  1. sumyungboi says:

    My own senator, Jim Kastama, showed courage and backbone by saying “no” to dishonorable little tricks and gimmicks, such as sliding items into the next budget, the old cliche about “kicking the can down the road”.

    It’s also almost comical, how when Republicans defect, they’re doing the right thing and it’s all about bi-partisanship and they’ve shown willingness to compromise, while when a democrat defects, they’re traitors and the sky is falling! :)

  2. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    “Dark hour”, “draconian budget”, “rather than taxing the wealthy”, “deplorable moral concern to the 1 percent”. Can we conjure up any more OWS-ish clichés?

    In Colorado Springs recently, the town was up in arms about a budget “deficit.” The response was to abolish municipal jobs, which had decent salaries and benefits, and privatize the work. Now people are hired at greatly reduced salaries, without health care or pensions. Is this what we want here?

    Well… yeah, considering it worked.

    Some critics have said that Colorado Springs was on the verge of financial crisis, blaming the city’s small government mentality and conservative roots. Mayor Lionel Rivera has a message for those critics:
    “I think that Colorado Springs is really the model for the rest of the country. What we’ve been able to do inside our parks and recs department, where our pool operations required $1 million subsidy…Now some of those have been turned over to the private sector and we’ve started running one of our own pools more efficiently. So we don’t need that ($1) million dollar subsidy anymore. The private sector is doing a good job and going to return some money to the general fund. One of our community centers has been contracted with a nonprofit, faith-based organization and they are providing community services in that community center, at no cost to the city for three years. That’s great news. What other city in the country can be that creative? And (at) the rest of our community centers we’ve been able to reduce the cost there by 42 percent. So if the rest of the country looked at Colorado Springs as a model and tried to figure out how to live within their means, I think the nation would be a lot better off.”

    “… one of the things we did in Colorado Springs is, and this is something I think the federal government is doing, is figuring a way to live within their means,” said Rivera. “We had to balance a lot of different cutbacks and services so we could maintain public safety, at the highest level possible, so we have cut back on street lights. It’s saving the city about $1.2 million, but amazingly our citizens initially were concerned, but now we’re not hearing any complaints whatsoever.”

    http://www.krdo.com/news/24634524/detail.html

    Ohh those evil rich people! THEY, forced CS to “live within their means”… well maybe not. Maybe it was a prudent strategy taken by a conservative city government… and it worked.

  3. alindasue says:

    Vox_clementis_in_deserto said, “Ohh those evil rich people! THEY, forced CS to “live within their means”… ”

    The big detail was left out of your quotes from the article: “…we’re doing a heck of a lot better than last year. Sales tax revenue for the year are up about 6 percent.”

    So, the question is was it the cuts in spending that allowed the comeback for Colorado Springs or was it the 6% increase in sale tax revenue that occurred at the same time?

    I don’t know what economic factors caused the sales tax revenue to increase rather than decrease the 1.7% predicted, but I can pretty much guarantee it wasn’t from city employees facing layoff and/or reduced wages and benefits. Increased sales tax revenue (without a rate hike to trigger it) only comes from people spending more. People with lower wages and no benefits don’t spend more… so there has to be some outside factor that caused people to spend more and the sales tax revenue to increase.

    Note that it took a combination of cuts AND increased tax revenue for Colorado Springs to make that recovery. That pretty much what Governor Gregoire has been saying for months. It’s that mixture of cuts AND tax revenue that seems missing from the Republican approach to our state budget this year.

  4. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    allidasue, I’ll leave the final determination to the Mayor. I’d say he knows a bit more about the details than you or I, but it does seem evident he is crediting their austerity measures.

    Note that it took a combination of cuts AND increased tax revenue for Colorado Springs to make that recovery. That pretty much what Governor Gregoire has been saying for months. It’s that mixture of cuts AND tax revenue that seems missing from the Republican approach to our state budget this year.

    Now you’re leaving something out; there’s a BIG difference between increased revenue from existing sales taxes, and raising taxes or creating new ones… which is what Gregoire, the letter-writer, and most of the Dems would do. If you read the article (for some reason I can’t link to it right now), or others about Colorado Springs budget crisis (of 2010, BTW), you would have noticed that the citizens of CS repeatedly voted down tax increases, including tripling their property taxes.

    They stuck it out – waited for the local private-sector economy to improve (thus the increase in sales tax receipts), employed austerity measures – including some privatization, and refused to seek new or increased revenue streams. And it worked, contrary to the letter writer’s implication.

  5. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:
  6. aislander says:

    Molly seems to have “compassion” for everyone but the taxpayer…

  7. alindasue Live within their means???? If some of the counties in this state, noticeably counties that predominantly vote Republican could “live within their means” and not spend more of the states money than they take in maybe we wouldn’t be in a budget crisis. I get this information on what tax money counties spend compared to what they take in from the Office of Financial Management (OFM). Those pesky King County residents only get $.60 for every dollar they take in. King County, a predominantly blue county is more than living within its means. Maybe um Clark County, Cowlitz County, Adams County and all the other counties who don’t could learn something from them!

  8. cargilekm says:

    Hebie, I couldn’t agree more. If you want everyone else to live within their means then lead by example, red counties.

  9. Scottc51 says:

    Whether the programs are great or not doesn’t matter, if there isn’t the money to pay for them. The idea of delaying a $400 million dollar payment one month is a joke on those who have to pay the bill next year. Oh wait. That’s us too.

  10. Vox, Italics?

  11. All of the people complaining about King County paying more than they receive should be learning a lesson here. King County has Seattle in it, a very sizable city. That takes pressure off of King County in terms of it’s budget in maintaining it’s business. The so-called “red counties” don’t have Seattle to help support it. King County overall earns more than those red counties so it needs to “do it’s duty” to help support the rest of the counties that are less fortunate.

    See, when you all say the “rich” or “1%” need to do more for the less fortunate it sounds good. But when it happens in government, the poor counties need to take less. King County is the 1% in this state. We are the 99%. Which way do you want it?

  12. alindasue says:

    Vox_clmantis_in_deserto said, “Now you’re leaving something out; there’s a BIG difference between increased revenue from existing sales taxes, and raising taxes or creating new ones… which is what Gregoire…”

    The key words here are “increased revenue”. I didn’t leave anything out. Governor Gregoire had said that we needed both cuts in spending and increased revenue to balance the budget.

    Something happened in Colorado Springs that caused a 6% increase in sales tax revenue concurrent with the timing of the budget cuts. It’s clear from that article you linked to that it was the combination of decreased spending and increased revenue that caused the improvement in the city’s money situation

    Personally, I think some of the cuts Colorado Springs made will come back to bite them in the wallet – as people making minimal wages and no benefits start needing support services. I suppose the plan is probably to avoid that bite by letting state and federal social services handle it instead…

    Back to our situation here –
    It was a combination of cuts and increased revenue that helped Colorado Springs. It’s a combination of cuts and revenue increase that we need here.

    Unless something happens in our local economy that would cause people to suddenly start shopping more and increasing sales tax revenue that way, then revenue may have to be found other ways. Some of those ways may even have to involve that nasty “t” word.

  13. philichi says:

    Mollie Gibbs welcome to the real world. I wish that you could have been there arguing when Gov Gregoire was raising government spending far faster than the growth rate. I wish that you could have said “Gov Gregoire forget about all of the campaign cash that was given to you by public unions” We can all whine and complain.
    The party is now over. This won’t be the last cut. This will take years to clean up the Deomocrat mess.
    My question is why wasnt this budget discussed earlier rather than 3 weeks of Gay Marriage?

  14. It’s kind of funny how in Washington state there are always those people who claim this budget problem is all Governor Gregoire’s and the Democrats fault, when almost every state in the U.S. had gone near bankrupt at the same time, and the others problems were traced back to the nationwide financial meltdown that led to the global financial meltdown that all started during The George W. Bush Administration.

    I don’t know about the other two Democrats who joined with the Republicans on the procedural trickery to present the Republican budget, but I do know that Jim Kastama is running for Secretary of State, so maybe he felt by joining the Republicans on this he could get more support and votes for his upcoming run.

    Regardless, there should be a rule of law that requires passage of the state budget during the Regular Session or fines be levied against the members of the legislature until they do pass a budget. They should not be paid for purposely going into overtime.

  15. People thinking Molly is right and the “TNT” printing her letter as a valid argument is just plain . . . scary!

  16. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    First, my apologies to all for locking-in the html code for italics/ emphasis. (Actually, we can thank the format here for that, but that (apparently) is neither here nor there.) I have a help call out to bB – need his secret to unlocking the code. Will try as soon as I hear from him.

    In the mean time:

    “Governor Gregoire had said that we needed both cuts in spending and increased revenue to balance the budget.”

    Actually, allindasue, that’s not what she said. She said, after sending a proposal for both a 1/2-cent increase in the state sales tax and 1.7 billion in cuts to the legislature last November, “I have seen the ramifications of the cuts, and I can’t live with it.” “… (more cuts would) not reflect Washington values.”

    See… her idea of “increased revenue” and yours are two very different things.

  17. I find it ironic that the 99%, as is stated in a previous contributor, are more than likely the ones who state that the 99% should get a job yet in reality it they are the 99% as the contributor states. Those same people are probably against wealth distribution yet that is exactly what is happening according to the contributor. To me that reeks of hypocrisy.

    BTW I wasn’t complaining that King County does a majority of the subsidizing counties that cannot live within their means I was only stating a fact. Thanks for admitting that King County/Seattle and a few other west side counties are indeed “doing their duty” by subsidizing other counties. Those blue counties I guess are stepping up to their responsibility for the betterment of the state. I just wish those who are being subsidized would appreciate it.

  18. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    Just adding to Sabre16’s 10:59 comment; There are only 5 counties in the state that get a negative return on their tax dollars: King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, and San Juan. Of those only two – King and San Juan – are solidly Democrat. Two are Democrat leans – Snohomish and Whatcom, and Skagit is definitely purple.

    So I guess you would cut off your nose here in “baby-blue” Pierce (@ + $.25), to spite your face?

    In addition, the 16 solidly Republican counties to which you refer, are rural, agricultural counties with either very low, or comparatively low populations. And, with the possible exceptions of Clark and Spokane Counties, that would also be true of the remaining 10 “pink” counties.

    Comparing a county with the productivity/ land values-per-acre of King County to… say, Ferry is to ignore the difference between fixed costs and variable costs. Rural, low-density counties are always going to have higher per-capita spending than urban counties simply because there are fewer people and businesses across which to spread the fixed costs of government (roads, buildings, land management, etc) and, by extension, much lower average per-acre land values from which to draw property taxes.

    This apples-to-orages argument has been debunked more that times than the flat-Earth myth.

  19. Just asking them to “live within their means” be it Pierce or Ferry county. If they take in less taxes then live with the taxes you take in. Don’t take money from others to subsize yourself or where you live. You decide to live in Washtucna then pay for the services needed there with your tax money not others. If your per-capita intake is less than so should your spending. I totally understand why they take in less taxes. That is why those locations take in less money. I also understand that those locations had their electricy extened to their ares through the Fedral Rural Electricity program or else they would never had been able to afford it if the people in the area had to pay for the installation them selves. Same for the paved roads. My point is I don’t think the people in those areas relize it. And without the wealth distribution and taking money from the more wealthy areas they would be in a world of hurt. Be it Ferry, Adams, or Pierce County or Washtucna Washington. Thanks for the healthy exchange.

  20. Scottc51 says:

    Draconian is what is going to happen to all of us because government doesn’t have the courage to live within its means.

  21. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    “Just asking them to “live within their means” be it Pierce or Ferry county. If they take in less taxes then live with the taxes you take in.”

    Great. So you won’t mind driving on those county roads, nor will you object to subject counties not conforming to unfunded state mandates, and they can just exempt their kids from state schooling mandates.

    “Don’t take money from others to subsize yourself or where you live.”

    I’m sure folks who live in Ferry County will be happy to know they no longer have to help subsidize the Washington State Ferry System.

    Look, in theory, I don’t completely disagree with you. It’s just that this isn’t really an “R” vs “D” question, as you have framed it. It’s more about geography than demographics. And I also believe that many of these counties could operate on a 1-to-1 basis were there not so much being required of them by the state.

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