by Goldy, 02/23/2010, 12:37 PM

Yesterday I griped about the Seattle Times myopic focus on the revenue side of the state budget equation, while providing very little coverage of the steep spending cuts in virtually every state agency and program:

You wouldn’t know it from reading the Times, because that doesn’t fit in with their lazy waste/fraud/abuse meme. No, the Times never writes about the thousands of state employees who have lost their jobs — further depressing our local economy — because they’re too busy expressing outrage that the remaining state employees still enjoy the same kind of health care benefits newspaper employeesused to enjoy as recently as a decade ago.

And today, as if on cue, the Times initial coverage of the just released Senate budget proposal focuses exclusively on tax increases.

If all you read was the Times, you might not remember that the legislature and governor addressed last year’s record revenue shortfall with a dramatic, all cuts budget, and you might think that the Senate is looking to close this year’s additional $2.7 billion gap entirely on the back of taxpayers. No, you’d have no idea that the Senate budget proposal includes another $838 million in additional cuts.

I’m just sayin’…

33 Responses to “Times focuses on taxes, ignores budget cuts in Senate proposal”

1. Dutch spews:

You are a funny guy. The so called budget reductions do not lower the load on people as you make it sound, but will just shift it to other sources (or should I say resources)/

Example: cutting 79 Mill going to school districts. Guess where those school districts will try to get the money from ? Additional levies and bond measures, usually via prop tax.

26 Mill from correctional facilities: Only to turn around in a few months to ask for additional taskes to fund them

49 Mill less to “instituions of higher learning” forcing those to increase their tuition and other fees to students.

33 Mill from imposing an additional assessment on hospitals….and where do you think they will get the money from ?

Etc etc…
So a revenue “reduction” is not what it seems to be…
But hey, the Times is just focusing on tax increases…how dare they

2. LaborGoon spews:

Look for the Times print edition to add reference not to what will be cut, but instead to which programs were “restored” from Gregoire’s original all-cuts I-hate-it-too budget thanks to new revenue. This, of course, will give the appearance of tax increases for NEW programs and services. That ought to rile up the teabaggers up.

Mission accomplished, Citizen Blethen!

3. 40-year morning paper reader spews:

Ever wondered why the congruence between the Times’ editorial page and their news pages is tighter than ever?

Seems obvious to me that the news writers, the ones who are left, know which side their bread is buttered on. If they want to keep what is left of their jobs, better not piss off the man who writes the checks — the ones drawn on that ever-decreasing bank account.

4. uptown spews:

@1 I’m shocked! Do you mean to say that someone might actually want those services and be willing to pay for them when the state can’t?

That is why the Seattle Times never talks about the cuts, because lower taxes sounds good, but fewer of the services I use/need doesn’t.

5. Matthew spews:

@1 Bull.

Local school districts cannot simply raise money at will to make up for reduced state funding. There are state-mandated limits on local levies. School districts will (like they always have) make up the difference by having fewer teachers (that is, increasing class sizes), buying fewer supplies, deferring maintenance, cutting any extracurricular activities they haven’t already cut, etc.

Likewise, correctional facilities, universities, and hospitals cannot just print money. State higher learning institutions, for example, have state-mandated limits on tuition.

Yes, some will try to impose more fees in more places (which the Seattle Times and Tim Eyman and friends will also complain about), but will also just plain cut back on public services. State correctional institutions are already paroling more people, and then reducing the number of parole officers supervising them.

And then people like you will complain that government is not doing enough.

6. Lauramae spews:

I believe the $69 million in further cuts to higher education already take into consideration the assumption of the 14% tuition increase that everyone was directed to make last year. It also includes reductions in full time employment for all the public institutions with overall cuts ranging from 2% to over 4% on top of the cuts made last year.

Increases to tuition that are up for consideration are for only the UW, WSU and WWU. Everyone else will be limited to the increases mandated by the leg. Of course, that might not happen because Wallace is sitting on it in committee and probably won’t let it out, higher education advocate (rolls eyes) that she is.

7. Dutch spews:

4 and 5: Yeah yeah yeah….school districts can’t raise money at will…have to wait for the next election, someone wants those services…etc etc…

The point was Goldy’s spinning as usual…the money will have to come from somewhere…selling it as a budget reduction is just spin…but then, what’s new.

8. rhp6033 spews:

At least the Times included a dissenting voice (this time around) by Paul Krugman, a syndicated columnist. His article is a pretty short and succinct analysis which reminds us that the Republican strategy has always been to take the popular route (“lower taxes! free money!”), and then make the Democrates take the unpopular task of cutting spending in a futile effort to match the cuts. He points out that even when Republicans are in power, they won’t cut the programs they promise to cut when running for office. His conclusion:

“At this point, then, Republicans insist that the deficit must be eliminated, but they’re not willing either to raise taxes or to support cuts in any major government programs. And they’re not willing to participate in serious bipartisan discussions, either, because that might force them to explain their plan — and there isn’t any plan, except to regain power.”

Source: The GOP’s starve-the-beast strategy will lead to catastrophe

9. rhp6033 spews:

# 7: Well, that’s kind of the point. As they taught in Econ 101, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. You have to eliminate services, or transfer the cost or raise the money in another way. Cutting state education programs and passing the problem to the school districts usually ensures that at least most of the cuts will be restored by property tax levies.

But it also means that there will be substantial inequality among the various school districts, depending upon the value of the property within the district. Bellevue School District will probably not have any trouble raising money, but others might not be so fortunate.

Which I suspect is the whole idea. Republicans usually don’t object to paying for their own kid’s educations – they just don’t want any portion of their money going to pay for the education of kids in the poorer section of town. After all, that six-year-old should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and raise the several thousand dollars needed to educate himself each year, BEFORE he gets to learn how to read!

10. Roger Rabbit spews:

@1 So tell us, genius, how to keep schools, jails, and colleges going on with money?

11. Roger Rabbit spews:

@1 Speaking of the tax “load on people”, it’s billions less than a couple years ago. Washington taxpayers have gotten huge tax cuts. That’s why the budget was cut, dolt.

12. ArtFart spews:

Blethen doesn’t want anyone else squandering what remains of his family’s fortune…he wants to do that himself.

13. Roger Rabbit spews:

@7 “…the money will have to come from somewhere…”

Really? Is that what you believe? Is this the secret to understanding the idiot right? That we don’t need any stinkin’ taxes because the money will always “come from somewhere”?

14. Roger Rabbit spews:

@9 I like the idea of passing the buck to local school districts. It means those whining eastern Washington teabaggers will have to put up or shut up instead of living off King County taxpayers.

15. Daddy Love spews:

Hey, all those people who get fired are just losers anyway. Rush told me.

16. Brent spews:

Who’s to say it has to come from schools, healthcare for needy/elderly, etc? Let’s get a public copy of the budget and see what can be done ourselves. I find those threats (to cut those services) as more of a threat than reality. They push hot buttons by throwing those threats out there.

I’m no Albert Einstein, but ask yourself this question: in an economy where many in the middle class are struggling just to make ends meet, how does an economy recover by taking more away from them? Further, if you add these ‘sin’ taxes proposed, think about the chain reaction effect that can happen by depressing such industries like beverage and foodservice distribution. The last thing needed is more industries affected by the recession.

No part of tax increases make sense, plain and simple. Whine about program A or program B. Threaten to cut schools, healthcare, etc, and it’s all really just an empty threat unless the state government is run by morons. It’s all a scare tactic to get us to respond.

We’ve all seen enough businesses (i.e. job opportunities) fall by the wayside. Why do we have to further pinch more industries? How does that make sense? With an unemployment rate near 10% reported, How does one justify such stupidity?

Because they “know” better? Let us vote on it then!

17. Daddy Love spews:

1 D

So a revenue “reduction” is not what it seems to be…

Dork. None of the things you are talking about are “revenue” reductions. They are spending reductions.

So let’s go back to school, because it seem you could use the edutation.

Revenue is the money coming into the government from taxes, fees, levies, ansd so on. What Republicans insist on calling a “deficit” is in fact no such thing, because our state budget is balanced each year. It is instead (as Goldy correctly states) a revenue shortfall, caused primarily from the deep global recession we are in that started in December 2007.

What is being proposed at the state level vis-a-vis school districts, correctional facilities, hospitals, and institutions of higher learning (speaking of which, why did you put that phrase in quotes? They’re not “so-called institutions of higher learning,” they are ACTUAL institutions of higher learning. Have you ever been in one?) are what are known as “spending cuts,” because the state will spend less on them in this budget year. It’s not a gimmick, it’s not sleight of hand, it’s just less spending.

You seem to have a limited and partially incorrect understanding of how government revenue and spending work. You claim, for example, that correctional facilities will “turn around in a few months to ask for additional [taxes?] to fund them.” Well, what they would actually ask for is additional spending so that they don’t have to fire staff or release prisoners. How that spending is paid for (for example by cutting other spending or raising taxes) is not up to them and they know that. But you don’t. Interesting.

Hospitals won’t just go out and get money somewhere else; they’ll also lay off workers and turn away patients. School districts won’t just just go out and get money somewhere else; they’ll also fire teachers, cut programs, and shave days off the school year. Institutions of higher learning won’t just go out and get money somewhere else; they’ll also fire professors and/or TAs, turn away students, and reduce or eliminate programs and departments.

18. Brent spews:

Inquiring minds want to know: Are hospitals and schools the only institutions affected by this funding? Why do they receive all of the attention? Could it be that they affect the majority? Who else is/could be affected by cuts?

19. Lauramae spews:

You can go to the Senate Ways and Means Committee web page and click through the agencies for the cuts, but one biggie, is the merger of the State Parks and Fish and Wildlife with Department of Natural Resources.

The cuts are real, as they were last year. I think an increase on sales tax to save some cuts is a weak kneed solution and there should be instead an income tax rather than a sales tax increase. Sales tax is seen as more “fair” and palatable.

http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2010/so2010p.asp

20. don spews:

@16

Oh Albert, you’re definitely not a rocket scientist, how you get up every morning and tie your shoes, let alone vote, is a mystery.

You can go grab a budget and start cutting whatever you think will balance the budget. But Republicans never seem to have any ideas about what to cut, just that waste and fraud are rampant.

But before you go just cutting willy nilly, you need to understand what can be easily cut and what can’t. That’s where your “who’s to say it has to come from schools, etc”. Just like a homeowner with a mortgage, the state has certain obligations for things that must be paid for first. When you don’t have enough money at the end of the month for all your bills, you don’t keep the lattes and cable TV and tell the bank you can’t afford the house payment. So of course the state is going to cut school enrollments, care for the needy and prison populations. Those things are not covered by contracts and obligations.

So go ahead, cut away at the state budget. But don’t just look at the savings in this year’s budget. Look at the future cost, say 5 to 10 years down the road when the public sector decides not to pick up the slack and leaves the state with the mess.

21. Crusader spews:

Example: cutting 79 Mill going to school districts. Guess where those school districts will try to get the money from ? Additional levies and bond measures, usually via prop tax.

Easy, reduce the # of school days to compensate. Little Johnny can read at home.

26 Mill from correctional facilities: Only to turn around in a few months to ask for additional taskes to fund them

Release the non-violent criminals(i.e. Pot smokers). Problem solved.

49 Mill less to “instituions of higher learning” forcing those to increase their tuition and other fees to students.

We need to stop funding bullshit general education classes anyways!

33 Mill from imposing an additional assessment on hospitals….and where do you think they will get the money from ?

So some of you will have to die. Time to buck up!

22. Crusader spews:

RR solution to all problems – soak the rich. Then come back and soak them some more. Then publicly flog them!

23. uptown spews:

@22 Well they can always move (and give up their US citizenship) to one of the low tax countries…like Haiti or Mexico.

Since the rich have been doing better than the rest of the population for the last 2 decades, I see no reason why they can’t kick in a bit more. How about taxing them at the same rate that Reagan did?

24. lostinaseaofblue spews:

Re 20

“When you don’t have enough money at the end of the month for all your bills, you don’t keep the lattes and cable TV and tell the bank you can’t afford the house payment”

Actually, a lot of people do/did. That’s disturbing social trend is part of the problem. I listened during the height of the boom to a young professional talk about their unsustainable mortgage. When asked how they’d pay if the adjustable rate went up given that they could barely make the payment at the time? ‘Oh, I’ll just walk away from the mortgage. My credit will come back.’

25. cnr is a moran spews:

Heard on This American Life that many upside-down ARM twisters simply stopped trying to make payments and simply stayed in their underwater homes. For months going on years.

Lenders had too much empty inventory as it was, and let the deadbeats squat. But how did the NPR people spin the story? Blamed the lenders because the borrowers lied to get liars loans.

26. sarah68 spews:

$2.8 billion shortfall.

Only about $8 billion pot from which to take that $2.8 billion. The rest is dedicated, as in “you can’t cut it.”

If you “fraud and waste” Republicans have good ideas, let your Representatives and Senators know. They’re having a hard time, just as you would if you had the legal responsibility to do the cutting, and try to come up with revenue so it won’t be all cuts.

If you don’t have any good ideas that would ACTUALLY WORK, shut up and let them do it. Then if you don’t like their choices, vote them out next time.

In the meantime, stop the blather.

27. Roger Rabbit spews:

@16 The first thing you need to understand about the budget is the different revenue sources and how they’re tied to specific programs. State government has many sources of income besides general taxes, including:

Federal grants and matching funds
Timber sales
Liquor and lottery profits
User fees
Dedicated taxes (e.g., fuel taxes)
Tolls and fares

On the spending side, several major taxes are tied to specific programs. For example, gas taxes can be spent only on transportation projects, and L & I taxes pay for the worker’s comp program. In unemployment benefits, the administrative expenses are paid for by the federal UI tax, and benefits are funded by the state UI tax.

Half of DSHS’ Medicaid spending is federal matching funds, the vocational rehabilitation program is 100% federally funded, and the child support program is about 85% federally funded.

Revenues from state timber sales and lottery profits must be spent on education.

Many small agencies, such as the horseracing and gambling commissions, are supported by user fees paid by the industries they regulate.

Fish and wildlife gets about 70% its money from federal funding and license sales, the other 30% from general taxes.

The legislature can move state general fund money around, but it can’t shift federal matching monies or dedicated taxes or fees to other programs.

On the spending side, education accounts for half the budget and a large share of non-federal money.

The only state-funded programs large enough to absorb general fund cuts in the billion-dollar range are basic and higher education, prisons, and state-funded social services. So, when you have to reduce spending by $2.8 billion, it’s impossible not to touch education, health care, prisons, and programs like chore services and home health care. Making cuts in the Department of Revenue, which collects taxes, or profitable operations like timber, liquor, and lottery sales doesn’t make sense because you lose more revenue than you save in spending.

28. Roger Rabbit spews:

@16 “We’ve all seen enough businesses (i.e. job opportunities) fall by the wayside. Why do we have to further pinch more industries? How does that make sense? With an unemployment rate near 10% reported, How does one justify such stupidity?”

I’d be careful about tossing around the word “stupidity” if I were you, because that one might come back to bite you.

Let me explain how.

Personal incomes of Washington residents have fallen as a result of the recession, but tax revenues have fallen even more (by percentage). Why? Because unemployment accounts for only part of the pullback in consumer spending. People still earning incomes are spending less, too, primarily for two reasons. One, they’re paying off debts, and two, they’re hoarding savings because they’re frightened about the future.

In other words, some of the income that generated tax revenues in the past is gone along with the lost jobs, but quite a bit of income that’s no longer being spent is still being earned, and is out there in people’s pockets.

You talk about tax increases hurting businesses. My friend, the money people are using to pay off debts or stash in rainy-day accounts won’t be spent at those businesses no matter happens to taxes in the legislature. In short, the underlying assumption of your argument is wrong, because you don’t know what’s actually happening out in the economy. That’s what I mean about stupidity coming back to bite you.

Of course, people won’t like it if the legislature decides to tap money they’re using to pay off debt or accumulate savings. But you can’t dismantle education if you want a state economy in the future, either. In fact, a large part of the tax revenue the legislature is looking at are “voluntary” taxes on things like liquor, tobacco, and junk food tht people don’t have to pay — they can choose not to buy those products, and they’re better off if they don’t — which indicates the legislature is sensitive to this issue. I don’t think you can reasonably ask for more than that.

29. Roger Rabbit spews:

Here is a detailed explanation of how the state senate plans to close the $2.8 billion budget gap:

http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/Budget/Detail/2010/sooverview0223.pdf

Major highlights are as follows:

Budget cuts — $838 million
Federal relief funds — $583 million
State rainy-day fund — $498 million
Tax increases — $918 million

Note the document says, at p. 4, “the Senate budget makes reductions in all areas of state government. Given the magnitude of the budget problem, one of the Senate’s guiding principles is that … ultimately no area can be spared from sharing in the budget solution.” (Emphasis added.)

30. rhp6033 spews:

25: I’ve heard the real estate collapse blamed on the borrowers & “liar’s loans” many times, mostly by right-wing talk show idiots, the Republican party generally, and by the lenders.

Sure, there were some folks out there who tried to make a quick buck by lying about their income so they could buy a bigger house than they could afford in the hopes that they could “flip” the house quickly and make a killing on the appreciation. For them, I have no sympathy. They tried a risky business strategy and got caught by a downturn in the market, so they have to pay the price (foreclosure, poor credit, perhaps bankruptcy).

Of course, there are three sides to this issue: the borrower who signs a document lying about his income, the lender who accepts it without asking any questions (and who often knows the statement to be false), and the government, which didn’t put the brakes on this practice in the mid 2000′s when it became obvious it was a factor in the over-heating of the real estate market. But at that time, nobody in the Bush administration wanted to put any water on the fire, too many influential industries were making a killing on those loans and they didn’t want any government intereference – and the Bush administration was happy to oblige them.

But they are hardly the lion’s share of people having problems with their mortgages. A lot of first-time borrowers were pushed into ARMS by real-estate agents (who wanted their commission based on a bigger sales price & a kickback from the mortgage broker), mortgage brokers (who made obscene commissions based the type of mortgage they sold to the borrower), and the lendors (who used the ARMS to get the intial fees, then quickly sold the mortgage to someone else to service).

The first-time homeowners, often in their early 20′s, were re-assured by their real estate agent (whom many mistakenly believed were working for them) that this was the ONLY way they could get a home and a mortgage, that the rate increases were limited, and after a couple of years in the home they could easily use the appreciation to re-finance into a fixed-rate mortgage. But they were warned that they could only qualify for these risky ARMs, and that they couldn’t qualify for conventional mortgages (which was often a lie).

Moreover, they were put under time pressure by both the mortgage broker, saying that if they didn’t buy TODAY the market would rise so fast that next week they would be priced out of the market completely.

To make matters worse, after applying for a mortgage, the mortgage brokers would sometimes sit on the application, asking for additional documentation or questions which needed to be answered, right up until the date of the expiration of the earnest-money agreement, at which time the borrower would be told that their application for a regular mortgage had been denied (which was sometimes a lie – the application had never been sumbitted), and that their only recourse was to switch to a risky ARM, and try to refinance again later. Now the borrowers have already given notice to their landlord that they are vacating their appartment, the landlord has already rented the apartment to someone else and is insisting that the vacate in the next three days, the price of properties have gone up in the interim, and they now have an emotional commitment to the house they are buying. Of course, they sign the ARM instead, and hope for the best.

Once appreciation stopped bailing people out of these ARMs, the house of cards started to collapse. Borrowers who had more than enough money in their budget to pay for the initial ARMS were shocked to find the banks re-setting them not at the market rate, but at the maximum rate allowed under the loan agreements – sometimes 5% or more ABOVE the initial rate. A 4.5% initial rate then became 9.5%. Their only option was to re-finance. But with housing prices beginning to fall, they found that they were underwater (or close enough to it that it didn’t matter), and no lender would touch them.

Many held on as long as they could. Some couples both worked two jobs in order to pay for the higher mortgage payments. But as the floor dropped out of the economy, they found themselves lucky to have only one job between them, and the mortgage payment alone would take up all of one person’s salary, if not more.

So it’s seldom a question of lattes vs. mortgage payments. Sure, you could probably find a few like that, even in the best economy. It’s much more complicated than that, with lots of different people, all involved in different circumstances. I could give lots of examples (I do debt counseling through my church), but there’s simply not enough time to do so here.

31. Mr. Cynical spews:

Goldy–
You & Burner obviously are clueless about economics. 3 Economists told a wide-eyed Senate Committee that the only way to address the massive Government Fiscal Mess at all levels is to STOP SPENDING! IT’S UNSUSTAINABLE! So Obam-Mao, thinking he is clever & others are stupid and won’t look, revises his Bloated Health Care Bill to assign costs to already cash-strapped States so he can say it won’t impact the Budget by more than $900 BILLION. This KLOWN is either stupid or dangerous…neither good for our Kommander-in-Chief.

Here is what the Union Democrats are protecting–

http://www.biaw.com/WAStateEmployeeWages.aspx

Take look at the TOTAL COMPENSATION of State Employees at the above site. Wages are only a part of the total compensation package. This site shows the true picture.
It adds 30% for Benefits (which comes straight from the State Human Resources website). It also puts a value on the 44 days off State Employees can get (Vacation, Sick Leave, Personal Days, Holidays). Do you realize they only work 82% of the weekdays. Unbelievable!
We owe it to nearly 30 years of Democrat Rule in the Governor’s mansion. She gets millions in campaign contributions and countless ground troops…then negotiates with the Unions who got her elected.
This is the result.

We need to stop spending and rollback spending levels NOW! It should have been done 5 years ago if we actually had a leader. Now it is much, much worse. In addition, the State Retirement Fund is $10 BILLION or so underfunded and regoire “balances” the current Budget by underfunding it by $500 MILLION more???
C’mon Goldy.
I thought “Progressives” looked ahead with great vision??
Show us how you would get out of this mess without stopping the spending??
You cannot do it, can you?!

32. sarah68 spews:

“Show us how you would get out of this mess without stopping the spending??”

Upping the revenue.

And you guys who use the “K” and the suffix “Mao” to somehow denote some communist connection of politicians — you do realize, don’t you, that the Soviet Union actually collapsed about 20 years ago, and Mao has been dead for quite a while? I doubt if most people even understand why you’re doing those things now; they just figure you’re spelling-impaired. Whereas you’re simply intelligence-impaired.

33. Brent spews:

Roger Rabbit @ 28

I’d hardly say stupidity bit whatsoever. Say what you want about revenue falling for the state, THEY SIMPLY JOINED THE CLUB!!! :)

As a business, I can’t arbitrarily raise my prices to offset receiving fewer customers than last year, it’s time to pinch and get lean.

The bottom line is that raising taxes does nothing to put more money in the hands of tax payers. Want them to spend money? Don’t take more away. It’s pretty simple. You take more away, the less we have to spend. Why do you think they’re in this position to start off with? Because the last line of tax increases curbed spending, leaving the budget short. Why should we believe that these should have any success? There’s no track record with this administration to give any confidence whatsoever.

Sin taxes? There’s someone affected by the state’s greed there too, but since when does the governor care about them and how it’ll affect their bottom line (or the whole supply chain for that matter).

Don’t give me the argument about what’s good or bad for me. If the government cared about that, then why are more and more liquor stores open on Sunday?

That’s right, more greed for tax dollars. It’s not about education, healthcare for elderly/needy, etc. Those are merely carrots being dangled in front of us in an attempt to make us sympathetic. It’s a dastardly pathetic maneuver. They should be ashamed.

I’m not saying it’s conservatism that’s the key, but this joke of an administration in Olympia needs to be stopped. There’s being clueless, but then there’s being Chris Gregoire and the Democratic party in Olympia. They’ve single-handedly re-written the dictionary definition on ineptitude.