For weeks I’ve been pushing the point that there is no state budget deficit, an argument, I was afraid, that was largely falling on deaf ears. Until now: “Rossi ad in error on state deficit – there isn’t one yet.”
That’s right, that’s the Seattle Times’ Bob Young setting the record straight (for the most part) on one of Dino Rossi’s erroneous and intentionally misleading campaign memes.
Dino Rossi is airing statewide radio and TV ads suggesting Gov. Christine Gregoire has ignored the state’s $3.2 billion budget shortfall.
The ads, titled “Denial,” never directly say that. But the ads repeat several times a Sept. 15 statement by Gregoire that “We do not have a deficit today.”
The ads assert the state has a deficit. A female narrator says about Gregoire: “Is she dishonest or is she in denial?”
The ad is inaccurate for this reason: The state is facing a projected $3.2 billion budget hole next year, but it does not have a deficit today.
The current budget, which runs to June 30, 2009, is balanced and the state has several hundred million dollars still in reserve. Part of the reserve is in a rainy-day fund that Gregoire pushed to create.
Exactly. (Well, not exactly. The $3.2 billion projected revenue shortfall is not for “next year,” it’s for the budget ending in 2011, that must be written next year. But why pick nits?)
So why is this distinction so important? Because when Rossi and the media repeat the imprecise term “budget deficit” voters understandably associate that with the hugeass federal budget hole created under the Bush administration (and about to be made even hugeassier with the impending Wall Street bailout), which is simply misleading. Our state constitution prohibits deficit spending, and thus the next biennium budget will be balanced. And the implied accusation that Gregoire has not been spending within our means is utter bullshit when she’s managed to sock away hundreds of millions of dollars of surplus.
So thank you Bob Young for taking this issue seriously—considerably more seriously than it was taken by the folks on your own ed board.