Everything you need to know about what's wrong with the budget debate in Washington state can be summed up in this Seattle Times editorial, starting with its headline: "Note to state budget cutters: We're in this together."
Um... note to Seattle Times editorial board: it would be more accurate to call them "state budget writers," as calling them "cutters" starts from an unsupported assumption that an all-cuts budget is the only proposal on the table. It's not. Nor should it be.
SOMETHING strange is happening in Olympia, where two state lawmakers from King County are overly excited that urbanized and suburbanized counties contribute more tax dollars to state coffers than rural areas.
You mean "strange" in that two state lawmakers, a Republican and a Democrat, are working together in the sort of bipartisan fashion you constantly claim you want? Or "strange" in that, in defiance of your previous editorial dissing, they continue to attempt to spark a public debate over an issue our state's paper of record clearly doesn't want raised?
This fact is neither new nor news, but that has not stopped state Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, from introducing a constitutional amendment to allow the state "to dissolve and reorganize" counties that receive twice as much in state services as they generate in tax revenues. He refers to Adams, Asotin, Ferry, Stevens, Lincoln, Garfield, Yakima and Wahkiakum counties. Oh, please.
Oh, please... the fact may not be new, but it certainly is news to hundreds of thousands of rural Washingtonians who are absolutely convinced that Seattle welfare queens are sucking them dry. How else to explain that they consistently vote to cut services that they don't pay for, and that they benefit from the most, while angrily sticking the finger in our direction?
It is obvious that urban-suburban areas will pay more on a percentage basis than rural areas. So what?
First of all, as I've previously pointed out, this disparity is not so obvious to a lot of voters, especially not its degree (for example, King County pays 42 percent of state revenues yet receives only 24 percent of state spending benefits.) And second... "So what"...? That's you're comeback? "So what"...?
You're not really suggesting that from where tax revenues come and where they are spent should have no impact on how we
cut write our budget, are you? What are lawmakers supposed to base these tough policy decisions on? Coin tosses? Tarot cards? Extispicy?
If Anderson is merely trying to make a point. OK. Deliver a speech, but keep it short.
In other words, deliver a speech that we won't bother to cover. But for God's sake don't attempt to spark a public debate on a subject that might undermine support from misguided rural voters for a painful, all-cuts budget that would ultimately hurt them the worst.
Anderson's point is that rural counties bristle at King and other wealthier counties for dominating the state budget and agenda. But these wealthier counties net export dollars to places where lawmakers complain.
To paraphrase the Seattle Times ed board: So...?
Beyond that, Anderson says rural counties need a long-term plan to sustain themselves either by merging with another county or finding new ways to create jobs and become more self-sufficient.
So...? Are the editors suggesting that struggling rural counties don't need a long-term plan to become more self-sufficient?
The best way for Washington to dig out of its current budget crisis is to do it together as one state solving problems collectively.
Agreed. But it might help if we, working together as one state, actually understood the underlying facts. I mean, if Ferry County taxpayers truly understood that they receive back more from the state in DSHS spending alone than the total revenues they send to Olympia, their representatives might not be so eager to slash DSHS spending.
When it comes right down to it, this legislative session is all about math. And yet when two lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle attempt to talk about some of the math that's driving our budget, the Seattle Times editorial board goes out of its way to ridicule them. I mean, talk about condescending:
This editorial page recently took on Rep. Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat, who had a similar revelation about disparate amounts King County sends to the state and receives back in services.
It is fascinating for about a minute that six counties contribute 75 percent of the state's total tax revenue and many others receive more in services than they pay.
Understand, this is the editorial board of our state's largest daily newspaper, making fun of elected officials for attempting to put factual, relevant information in front of the voting public. Honestly, what a bunch of assholes.
If this is all about having a conversation about the imbalance, discuss at will. But the constitutional idea is going nowhere. That involves the state sloughing problem areas off to counties, which are in no better shape than the state.
In other words, if this is all about having a conversation about the imbalance, discuss it quietly amongst yourselves. But don't you dare propose any legislation that might promote a real debate on budget drivers, by, say, manipulating us into running two editorials on the subject of why we shouldn't be talking about the subject we're talking about, thus cleverly using us as an unwitting tool in furthering your message. Or something.
(Kinda like the the time the Seattle Times criticized me for getting "the phrase 'horse's ass' into dozens of family newspapers." As if I held a fucking gun to their heads.)
Lawmakers must engage in solid budget cutting endeavors that do the least harm to all of Washington.
And there you have it: "Lawmakers must engage in solid budget cutting endeavors..." They shouldn't explore revenue alternatives, they shouldn't examine the underlying structure of our budget, and for God's sake, they shouldn't encourage an informed, public debate. Because any of that might undermine our assumptions, and get in the way of the cuts.
In fact, there are some legitimate arguments to be made in favor of an all-cuts budget—misguided, misinformed and economically short-sighted as they might be—but the Seattle Times' editors aren't making these arguments. No, they're just starting from the assumption that an all-cuts budget is our only option.
And any attempt to spark a deeper, broader, better informed debate... well, I guess that's just unacceptable.