Apparently concerned that his dishonest, shameless promotion of Tim Eyman’s I‑976 might come across as heartless and lacking in empathy, KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson yesterday tried to argue that people with disabilities needn’t be affected by the potential implementation of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 because there is plenty of wasteful spending out there just begging to be eliminated.
As examples, Monson cited the following:
- Evergreen State College (the entire institution)
- King County Executive Dow Constantine’s protective detail
- Salaries of some King County government employees
- Staff positions within the City of Seattle
That was the extent of Monson’s list.
“Don’t get me wrong, we need government,” Monson said, trying to sound less like the irresponsible cheerleader for Tim Eyman’s destructive initiatives he has recently functioned as on his radio program. “We need it to provide the basics — schools, jails, public safety, parks, transit. If government just provided those things, you could slash the budget and save billions.”
Wrong. Right wing tropes are not a recipe for funding the services we need.
Since you fancy yourself gubernatorial material, Dori, perhaps you’d like to show us how you would rewrite our state’s budgets (and by the way, there’s three of them: operating, capital, and transportation) to keep services intact while slashing taxes.
You will not be able to offset the cuts that implementation of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 would require with the examples from your rant.
Of the four examples you cited, the Evergreen State College is the biggest because it’s an institution of higher education. Some of Evergreen’s funding comes from tuition, some comes from grants, and some comes from state taxes; were the institution to be cut off from public funding and privatized, only a paltry fraction of the state’s total operating budget would be “saved”.
Here’s a few numbers to illustrate what I’m talking about:
- For Fiscal Year 2019–2021, Washington State’s operating budget is about $99.7 billion, inclusive of all funding sources.
- In the omnibus operating budget for the current biennium, the Evergreen State College is slated to receive approximately $163 million.
- $163,011,000 of $99,266,320,000 is 0.16%.
If Tim Eyman’s I‑976 is implemented, meaning that the revenue it would cut is not raised from another source, then the Legislature would have to cut the current transportation budget by $478 million to make the budget balance.
The fraction of the $163 million in Evergreen State College funding that comes from state taxes would not be sufficient to backfill the loss from I‑976.
Just as privatizing the Evergreen State College would not offset the impacts of I‑976 at the state level, eliminating Dow Constantine’s protective detail, cutting salaries of King County employees, and getting rid of staff positions at the City of Seattle won’t offset the impacts of I‑976 at the local level.
Cutting salaries and jobs would only compound the problems we already have, because it would put people out of work and reduce household spending power. Public sector jobs support our state economy just as private sector jobs do.
The Office of Financial Management has estimated that Initiative 976 would eliminate a total of $4.2 billion in transportation funding over the next six years.
You can see from the following briefing packet put together by Senate Transportation Committee staff how much each account stands to lose:Impact of Initiative 976 from Senate Transportation Committee Staff
As I alluded to above, at the state level, transportation has its own budget, which is separate from the operating and capital budgets.
The transportation budget is principally funded by revenue sources that are transportation-specific, like the fuel tax, vehicle fees, tolls, ferry fares, and so on. For FY 2019–2021, the transportation operating budget is $4.9 billion and the transportation capital budget is $5.1 billion. If you read the budget (it’s available here), you can follow the money and see which projects and services it supports.
What I’d like to know, Dori, is which of the projects and services in this transportation budget would you support getting rid of? Alternatively, what other funding source would you propose levying to enable these projects and services to continue to receive funding without revenue from vehicle fees?
You advocated for a massive cut to the revenue that supports Washington’s transportation budget. Now you are making the claim that if waste were eliminated, there would be plenty of money to fund transit for people with disabilities. Prove it. Demonstrate how you’d keep funding flowing to transit for people with disabilities without the revenue that I‑976 is attempting to repeal.
And when I say demonstrate, I mean demonstrate. As in, show us your work. Show us the math. Make the transportation budget balance. You think you can do Jay Inslee’s job better than he does? Let’s see what you’ve got.
What you offered yesterday is a joke. How about a serious proposal?