This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
One question for the people accusing Gov. Chris Gregoire of grabbing for new taxes instead of downsizing state government:
Where on Earth have you been for the last three years?
Faced with the worst fiscal crisis in a lifetime, she and the Legislature have been paring state services relentlessly.
The K-12 system has been squeezed. Washington’s public colleges have lost a third to a half of their state funding, depending on the school. Health insurance for the poor has been nearly strangled. Many state employees have had wages cut or been laid off. State agencies – large and small – have been turned upside down and had the change shaken out of their pockets.
Even assuming Gregoire got her half-percent sales tax increase, her plan would still inflict brutal new cuts on state social services. Tax increase or no tax increase, her budget kisses off health coverage for 55,000 poor people, for example. Much of the state safety net would be gone one way or another.
She’s proposing the half-cent sales tax – and several smaller increases – to prevent the additional loss of funding for property-poor school districts, another devastating hit to public colleges and the early release of felons, among other things.
Neither the governor nor the Legislature can raise taxes unilaterally; they must get approval from the electorate. If the ultimate choice is between new revenues and further damage to public education, the public ought to be given the chance to make that decision.
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