The state House Dems released their budget proposal today, and as expected, it's godawful. I've only had a chance to skim the document, and so you'll have to wait until I've studied the details to read a more detailed post, but judging from the House Dems' one-pager, we're looking at an all-cuts budget that slashes spending by $5.1 billion, mostly on education and social social services, while proposing zero new revenue apart from a one-time $300 million sell-off of liquor distribution assets.
Were this a budget crisis created largely by out-of-control spending, as Republicans and their surrogates on our newspaper editorial boards have dishonestly insisted for years, such a slash and burn budgetary approach might be understandable. But it's not. No, as the one-pager points out, state spending per capita is now at it's lowest level since 1986, representing a quarter century of steady decline in the ability of state government to meet the needs of its citizens.
But rather than use this figure—one which would no doubt come as a surprise to many voters—as an argument for closing tax loopholes and raising taxes and fees, these budget writers almost seems to boast of this milestone as evidence of their budgetary thriftiness.
And so Washington state's gradual transformation from economic wunderkind to Alabama continues, as our Democratic legislature and governor, unable (or unwilling) to break the Republicans' rhetorical lock on the budget debate, once again sell out their constituencies by permanently shrinking our revenue base to the point where we can no long afford to educate our children or care for our sick and elderly.
No doubt there are a lot of Dems in Olympia who will tell you how much they hate this budget. Perhaps Gov. Gregoire will even shed a few more tears. But there's also a lot of self-soothing going on right now too, as Dems reassure each other that they buckled down and made the tough choices required by tough times.
Bullshit. The tough choice would have been to try to tell taxpayers the truth, instead of continuing to allow the Republicans to enact their long-term agenda by default.