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Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire puts out first list of possible cuts to state budget

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Nov. 24, 2010 at 11:14 am with 15 Comments »
November 24, 2010 1:09 pm

First, here’s the Associated Press story on the list sent to legislative leaders Tuesday:

Gov. Chris Gregoire is laying out some budget-balancing options for state lawmakers. But her plans require quick action from the Legislature, which isn’t scheduled to return until next year.

Gregoire is sending the information to legislators as they look for ways to balance the current year’s budget. Gregoire had previously cut spending to fill the budget gap, but low tax collections have made it even larger.
Gregoire’s letter spells out big steps that could be taken, including elimination of the Basic Health Plan and raiding federal education dollars.

But her plan couldn’t fully work without a special session of the Legislature, because it requires changes to state law before next year.
Gregoire has given lawmakers until Nov. 29 to submit their budget ideas.

In her letter to the leaders of the four political caucuses in the Legislature, Gregoire said she already made across-the-board cuts to solve an earlier shortfall. That solution, however, won’t work this time, she said.

“For example, I cannot make additional cuts at the Department of Corrections without posing significant risks to public safety,” she wrote.

“We need to make sustainable policy and budget decisions that are reflective of current revenue. We need decisions that meet our immediate need and those that will provide direction for the 2011-13 biennium. There are only seven months left in the biennium, and delay will result in deeper cuts and additional harm. Frankly, we all have run out of time.”

Reaction has been, as expected, muted but cognizant of the state’s latest budget problems. Here’s what Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown had to say:

“As expected, the service cuts Gov. Gregoire has proposed are numerous, deep and are painful.

“Her list shows the enormity of our task, and I commend the Governor for her first step in tackling this latest hurdle we face as a state.

“Our challenge isn’t just a math problem. We must keep in mind that the education we provide to our young people are their opportunity for their future.

“We must also keep in mind that the services on this list make a real difference in real people’s lives, and it can literally be a difference between being healthy or sick, being warm or cold, being well or in pain.

“The people who will be affected by these cuts have nowhere else to go. They’ve already exhausted all their options, and I want to make sure we exhaust all of ours before we make a decision like this.

“This process won’t be quick and it won’t be easy.

“Cuts will no doubt be necessary, but I believe there are reforms we can make within government that can also achieve significant cost savings. We need to look at literally every opportunity to reduce the cost of delivering services before we eliminate those services outright.”

Here are pdfs of the letter Gregoire sent and the draft of the potential cuts.

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. DrWernerKlopek says:

    You have to wonder how much money could be raised if newspapers paid their fair share of taxes. Perhaps McClatchy would not have tonnes of money to buy and sell things like baseball teams and bilk the public into building stadiums for them.

  2. Cut all state salries 10 percent and problem solved…easy. But it is against state law to cut union wages….they must be preserved and go higher.. thanks to the libs running Oly…

  3. westy – Cutting salaries by 10% would barely put a dent in the problem, let alone solve it. It would save about $400 million when we need to cut more like $9 billion. Whole programs like Basic Health need to be cut.

  4. the3rdpigshouse says:

    And where is the elimination of the expanded SCHIP Program that Gregoire authorized without funding???!

  5. petercallaghan says:

    Oh my, Doc, where to begin…
    I assume you are referencing the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kevin McClatchy’s role in an ownership group. As an individual and with personal money, Kevin McClatchy led a group to buy the Pirates and they did lobby for and win funding for a stadium. The McClatchy Co., which owns the News Tribune, was not part of that group and does not have ownership interest in any sports franchise. Kevin does serve on the board of directors.

  6. tomwa007 says:

    Oh Peter, but the TNT and Mc Clatchy does a smear campaign on the assessor. That sort of hit piece could easily be done on the City Manager, Mayor and half the city council.

    Mr. Washam raised your property taxes so there is a vendetta. If you have to pay your fair share, you extract retribution.

    Even if you do not believe it is so, the appearance is there and the TNT does not care.

    We don’t care, We don’t have to!

  7. petercallaghan says:

    Not wanting to spend too much time in this particular sandbox…but Tomwa needs to look at two different parcel numbers to determine the total property tax situation for McClatchy’s taxable property in Pierce County.

    One is No. 4425001165. That is for real property and does appear to show a significant increase over the last six years.

    The other is No. 2009288000. That is for personal property and shows a significant decrease over the same time period.

    The state has shifted how property such as equipment is taxed. The value has moved from personal property to real property.

    If you add them together over the years, it looks like an overall decrease in property taxes paid, something common here and statewide as the property tax burden has been shifting from commercial and industrial property to residential due to differences in assessed value increases.

  8. How about mandatory drug testing for all receiving public assistance with removing those that fail, that would result in a 75% cut in monies spent. How about sending all illegals to the nearest INS facility. Welcome to those who came here legally and good riddance to the rest. Block the welfare cards from purchasing anything other that healthy and necessary items, Make those receiving public assistance work for it in the community; roadside, park clean-ups, community service, etc…

  9. tree_guy says:

    Government salaries have been established as a result of an elaborate accounting hoax to the detriment of the taxpaying public. There’s no comparable wage study that cannot be jiggered in such a way that it makes government workers appear to be underpaid.

  10. When I see Governors comments added like the one below is simply a scare tactic

    “For example, I cannot make additional cuts at the Department of Corrections without posing significant risks to public safety,” she wrote.

    It seems like out of control spending and using intimidation like having to cut police and department of corrections without posing risk is simply a way of scaring us! I say it is time to make those cuts and make the financial changes. I see a lot of “I can’t cut without risking safety” as a way to make her look good. It is the fault of excessive spending that put us here and now we are having to OK additional spending in order to keep us safe. I would encourage continual cuts in criminal justice and police to force the departments become more effective otherwise look into privatizing the jails.

    There is a huge financial mess and its not getting better, stop useless spending and downsize everything. The sooner the better. Start looking at privatizing some services now. Start reducing salaries and start looking at better methods of work.

    It is never too late to start a budget freeze, It is also time to privatize the state ferry system as well. It could reduce other states services temporarily such as additional work furloughs. Continue with small steps saving every day until the budget is balanced and continue it.

    I think asking the police to use less money or to look at ways to increase revenue like public donations or simply making bake sales and car washes could bring in petty cash if something is needed.

    I have a motor pool and it is always easier to buy out of discount tires than expensive service contract with brand name tires, why cant the state do the same. Stop spending on office equipment and encourage every single office department to buy their own supplies. This would save small amounts internally, however done statewide would be substantial.

    Make it happen now! Make the cuts in Criminal Justice and Police and make them now, There is no better time to start learning cost effectiveness than now!

  11. Bake sales for cops. I guess it has a certain ring to it.

  12. We had an initiative on the ballot regarding an income tax on the very wealthy. Could have been the start of something different.
    It could have been the start of a sensible way to fund our little state.
    It’s amazing to me how people dump on the poor when things get tough.

  13. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    Don’t overlook innovative cuts, for example, to the Western State Hospital $150 Milllon per year for 800 “patients”. Most have been there for years, othes are there instead of prison. Why not declassify from an expensive hospital to a residential faciliy, relocating to vacant McNeil? Save $75 million off the top. And cut down on state employees. Look it up–the worst L&I abuse in the state and the most excess use of sick time. 4 years of WSH is the total cost of the new Narrows bridge.

  14. At this point, it appears unlikely that the Governor has the votes to enact the proposed cuts, and she won’t call a special session without knowing what the outcome will be in advance. Since most of the cuts listed had a 12/12 deadline, does it look like there’s much chance for her getting those votes in the next few days?

  15. seattlesoul says:

    Once again let’s balance the budget by taking away basic services from the poor. Many have no choice for the situation they are in. Like my mother who is mentally ill. Not that I would ever let her live on the streets, but the money she gets for medical covers her medicine as well as on going treatment for cancer. How about you raise taxes! Since you can’t seem to learn how to stay in your yearly budget. I would rather pay more to take care of the people who need it then have a bunch of poor homeless souls roaming the streets not sure what to do. WAKE UP! Stop wasting money on your private stupid endeavors! We elected you to protect and serve us. Not to satisfy your own personal quests.

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