State House Appropriations Committee chair Ross Hunter (D-48) is no idiot. He may not be as smart as he thinks is (hanging out in Olympia will do that to you, because his fellow electeds set such a low bar), but he’s no idiot. I’ve had numerous conversations with Hunter over the years, and there’s no question he’s smart. Often too conventional. Sometimes dead wrong. But smart.
But state Senate Ways & Means chair Andy Hill (R-45), well, I gotta wonder. Never met the guy. Never had so much as an email exchange. So it’s hard for me to judge his intelligence for myself. But what I can say is that if Hill is not an idiot, he sure thinks you are:
But Hill labels as false Hunter’s overall depiction of a budget shortfall in need of new tax revenue.
Hill says Hunter would like you to think it’s either raise taxes or make cuts. But, Hill says, “Remember, we’ve got $3 billion of new money.
Sigh. That old line again—that if the dollar figure of revenue goes up, there can’t possibly be a revenue shortfall, regardless of the rising costs of existing government services or the added costs of meeting new demands. I mean, let’s say your rent rose 7.9 percent last year (the actual average rent hike in Seattle last year), but your wages rose 2 percent. Hey: You’re revenue is up! So quit your whining!
Speaking of which:
“And Ross will say it’s all spent, but it’s all spent on optional things, like collective-bargaining agreements,” Hill added.
Yeah, “optional things.” Like paying government workers. Which, you know, is every government’s biggest cost.
To be clear, what Hill is referring to is the collective bargaining agreement struck between Governor Inslee and the Washington Federation of State Employees. State workers haven’t received a cost of living increase since 2008, a period of time over which inflation has eaten away about 10 percent of their wages. The proposed contract would give state workers a 3 percent raise in 2015, followed by a 1.8 percent raise in 2016—a two-year period over which inflation is projected to rise about 1.8 percent a year. By the end of 2016, adjusted for inflation, state workers would still be earning about 9 percent less than they did back in 2008, even with this raise.
But Hill argues that it is an “optional thing” to ever increase state worker pay again!
Sure makes the job of balancing the budget without raising taxes easy if you can freeze one of your biggest cost drivers by never giving state workers another cost-of-living increase again. Ever.
I’ve other work to do so I can’t fisk all of Hill’s idiotic arguments. But it doesn’t bode well for budget negotiations when the Senate’s budget writer is so vehemently professing such budgetary nonsense.