Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Governor Gregoire unveils 2010 supplemental budget with jaw-droppingly awful cuts

Governor Chris Gregoire is currently speaking to a roomful of reporters in her conference room at the statehouse to outline the 2010 supplemental budget that she's prepared. This budget, which is required by law, has to be balanced without any new revenue, meaning that the cuts pretty much have to correspond to the amount of the shortfall, minus any available cash on hand.

The governor wasted no time in getting down to details, outlining some of the more horrific choices she's had to make to come up with this "balanced" budget. The governor intends to propose her own budget in January which would restore many of the cuts outlined below.

Here's what's on the chopping block in this "balanced" budget:
  • Some corrections institutions to be closed
  • School districts levy lid lift to be increased to 30%
  • Basic Health Plan to be ended
  • General Assistance for the Unemployable to be ended
  • Prescription drug assistance for 85,00 seniors to be suspended
  • Maternity support for 50,000 pregnant mothers to be suspended
  • Hospice assistance to be cut
  • Financial aid to over 12,000 low income students to be ended
  • Levy equalization to be suspended
The list doesn't end there. It goes on... and on... and on... and on.

"Anything that's large had to be cut," Gregoire told reporters during a question and answer session following her prepared remarks.

She stressed that the "balanced" budget she's proposing in accordance with state law "does not reflect my values."

"I do not support this budget," she declared at one point, explaining that she is trying to identify new revenue sources to restore many of the cuts above.

Here's a quick breakdown of how the $2.6 billion shortfall will be closed:
  • $900 million from one-time sources such as the rainy day fund will be tapped
  • That leaves a shortfall of about $1.7 billion
  • The governor would like to reduce the total amount of cuts that have to be made to $1 billion. That means she and legislators will need to find around $700 million in new revenue.
  • That $700 million, once found, would then be applied towards restoring the worst of the cuts so that we don't end up destroying our social safety net.
The governor did not elaborate on what her own budget (which will include new revenue sources) will look like a month from now. Asked about particular revenue sources by reporters, she said she's unlikely to increase the business and occupation tax, and unlikely to increase the property tax. A sales tax increase is on the table and is something she is looking at.

The governor stressed that she wants to close uneeded tax loopholes and unecessary exemptions, which is something we at NPI have long been urging to do (in fact, we wrote a letter to her a year ago on that subject).

Gregoire also said during her remarks that she'd like to address "tax fairness issues", but did not elaborate on what she meant.


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