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More bad budget news from Olympia | Letters
Lately, it seems as if all the news from Olympia is bad, as the only thing our legislators can agree on is to disagree.
The Democrats were the first to come out with a budget proposal in the House to address a $3.1 billion shortfall for fiscal year 2013. The Republicans then passed their version of the budget in the
Senate, 25-24, with the help of three Democratic Senators. However, these budgets are far apart and since they could not get the job done in the regular session, it will now cost taxpayers additional money for a special session — which lately seems to be the rule rather than the exception.
As you will recall, Gov. Christine Gregoire called them into special session in late November or early December, but it did not accomplish anything because now we are back to square one.
A Republican Senator from Auburn stated their budget proposal “was an honest attempt to break a logjam in the process, and redefine the budget box to lower the level of spending. It is just as legit a budget as the proposal passed by the House, and more legit than the other Senate proposal that didn’t even have the votes to get out of committee.” But our Sen. Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way) countered: “In my opinion, (these) actions constitute a breach of our once transparent and public budgeting process.”
In my opinion, both budgets have serious flaws. The Democratic budget was highly criticized by the Republicans because of a “gimmick” (also called a trick or false accounting) they used to defer $300 million in payments to school districts from this fiscal year to the next. Another Republican Senator stated: “the Republican budget proposal is a message of strength, understanding of the times and budget sustainability. That’s based on upon the principles of not spending more money than revenue coming in.”
I don’t agree because the Republicans chose to make serious and drastic cuts to education instead of finding additional sources of revenue to make up the shortfall. They also deferred a pension payment. Specifically, the Republican budget proposes to make extensive cuts to K-12 education to the tune of $44 million and $30 million in cuts to higher education. There were no cuts to education in the Democratic budget. The Republicans are saying to the State Supreme Court that “in spite of your ruling that said we are not meeting our paramount duty to fully fund basic education, we are going to make cuts anyway.”
Since the Democrats control the House, 56-42, a political showdown is imminent in Olympia when the special session starts. Stay tuned.
Gary Robertson, Federal Way