Letters to the Editor

State legislators messed up again

In a not-too-surprising move, Washington legislators passed what can only be described as a terrible state budget this session.

They plan to spend $1.5 billion more than the state is forecasted to collect over the next two years. With a bit of snake oil, smoke, and mirrors, the gaping hole will be patched (like a band-aid on a hemorrhage) with budget tricks and the one-time sale of 25 percent of Washington’s expected tobacco settlement payments for the next 25 years.

Something is wrong in Olympia. Again. Still. Don’t those people get it yet?

First, this mix of gimmicks is unsustainable. Second, it defies simple, common sense. Whatever happened to doing what normal working folks have to do. You know, rein in their spending.

Even given that their spending is way out-of-control, it can still be done. Really.

Perhaps the governor and his colleagues in the Legislature prefer the idea of raising taxes. During a time of high and growing unemployment. That would certainly be my first choice. Not.

What about the hundreds of millions of dollars in identified waste, fraud, and mismanagement that have been brought to light by the press, the state budget office, and the auditor’s office?

You know, most folks have to tighten their belts when times get tight. Why doesn’t Olympia? What is it they just don’t get?

Why isn’t the governor complying with Washington’s Budget and Accounting Act? You know, the one that requires him to order across-the-board cuts to “eliminate actual or projected cash deficits in the state budget.” Oh yeah, they figured out a way to get around the 601 spending limits, so why pay any attention to laws? Guess they must be above them.

Or, maybe not.

Already, the Securities and Exchange Commission and three separate bond rating firms are preparing to conduct an investigation of our state’s budget and accounting practices. Guess what that will do to our already sagging credit rating?

The state’s interest rates? Our tax dollars are going where and on what? Borrowing from former presidential candidate Ross Perot, “Can you hear that giant sucking sound?”

The temporary “fixes” contained in the state’s new budget are creating the basis for a long-term crisis. Our legislators have bailed out of the hard work, leaving it up to us, again, just so they can leave Olympia on time. Hmmm.

What we need in Olympia is leadership, not tricks, not higher taxes, and not weak-willed politicians that are experts at smooth talking, promises and getting elected.

Elections are coming this fall –– if we can still afford them. It’d be nice to send our governor and other elected officials a strong message before then. But I guess we can’t. They’re already done for the year.

Mark Doennebrink


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