This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Lawmakers have often promised to bring a hard-nosed, results-oriented, “everything on the table” approach to writing the state budget.
Occasionally they’ve partially delivered. Mostly they’ve claimed they were delivering while leaving sacred cows untouched.
This time is different. As of last week’s revenue forecast, state government was short $900 million of what it needs to continue the state’s existing programs and services at existing levels. It is short a staggering $5.7 billion over the biennium that begins in July. And that’s after the 2010 Legislature made tough cuts in some programs.
The immediate challenge is to carve the $900 million out of the current biennial budget – close to a billion dollars worth of pain crammed into seven short months. Gov. Chris Gregoire has already covered $520 million of that, crudely, by imposing 6.3 percent across-the-board cuts.
That’s the worst possible way to cut a budget, but she was forced to do it because lawmakers refused to meet in special session to make adjustments last summer. Their foot-dragging made the problem considerably worse.
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