This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Gov. Chris Gregoire – and other Democratic leaders, no doubt – are hoping her neo-Dickensian spending plan for the remainder of the biennium will make the case for a tax increase of perhaps $700 million.
They’ve still got a lot of selling to do.
The governor is right about one thing: Her new budget proposal – which adjusts state spending for another $2.6 billion in lost revenue and increased obligations – would be intolerable as written.
When this state goes into recession, governors and lawmakers tend to hunt from savings in two broad areas: higher education and human services. Neither has constitutional protection, as does basic education. Nor do the poor and sick who depend on social welfare programs have much in the way of political clout.
As expected, the no-tax budget plan (which Gregoire has already repudiated) takes a savage machete to the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
It would completely eliminate state-subsidized health insurance for the working poor, kicking tens of thousands of families off the rolls of the Basic Health Plan.
It would entirely kill General Assistance Unemployable, a program that provides survival-level monthly checks and medical coverage to many disabled people who haven’t yet qualified for federal disability payments.
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