Complicating matters for lawmakers is the fact that 70 percent of the state's $31 billion operating budget that runs through 2011 can't be cut,
either because of state law protecting things like K-12 education or federal rules. That leaves the remaining programs especially vulnerable.
Entitlement program spending... a giant albatros hanging around the neck of the American taxpayer. I placed this article in Breaking Alternative News
rather than in the regional politics for two reasons...
1. The Seattle Post Intelligencer, now an online edition only "newspaper" since the economy sent them out of business earlier this year, is the only
local new source discussing this. Convenient that the remaining local print newspaper, the Seattle Times, didn't have so much as a peep about this
over the weekend. Seems logical to assume that there was some pressure on them to not discuss the fact that we've gone from a massive deficit being
"salvaged" via cuts and federal money in July to, once again, in the bottom of a giant multi-billion dollar deficit 5 months later.
2. This article may be about the state of Washington today, but I have little doubt that it will ultimately be a decision almost all 50 states get
stuck making. Every state has, to some degree, saddled themselves with entitlement spending which cannot be cut from their budget. When all of the
fat is trimmed, you begin to cut into the meat... we're seeing the knife now in Washington and I'm sorry to say the rest of the country will get
sliced into as well before this is over.
So let's look at what this means.
According to a press release from the state Office of Financial Management www.ofm.wa.gov...
the state spent $500,000
to conduct a study which suggested the state should effectively eliminate the department of corrections and downsize the penitentiary system. That's
brilliant... how much of the savings will be eaten up by local police agencies battling the unrehabillitated inmates who get early release or are not
incarcerated at all under the trimmed down system?
The cuts to the state health care for underprivaledged families is another issue which has national ramifications. Several years ago the governor was
tooting her own horn about the state's "progressive" low-income health benefits. It was a swell program when the economy was strong. Unfortunately,
now that times are lean, it's caused a damned if you do, damned if you don't connundrum. People who really need it are using the program right now.
These are families who had been working and had paid into the system and now it could be yanked out from under them. FWIW, the program has also been
fraught with fraud... as would the national level system if it were to be implemented.
The alternative is a tax hike. The idea of raising taxes in the current economy reeks of foolishness. The tax breaks they are discussing elimination
of are essentially the #1 reason Washington has high technological centered jobs in the first place. Boeing, Microsoft, Nintendo, and T-Mobile among
many others are here because of the tax breaks. Boeing is already putting one foot out the door, having awarded South Caroline with a brand new
Dreamliner factory which rivals their facillities here. Microsoft is probabaly here to stay, but their outsourcing of work will almost certainly
skyrocket if they start seeing additional taxaes heading their way. Not to mention the non-tech industries here such as Weyerhauser and CostCo's
corporate headquarters. The state has seen how brutal mass layoffs can be when WaMu went under... magnify that exponentially if the giants of middle
class employment like Boeing or Microsoft decide to follow suit.
I don't know what the answer is. That's what bothers me so much at this point. We have been forced into a corner where there is no non-painfull way
to escape. The American dream is still alive in parts of the United States... but I see it dying in some parts, too.
(visit the link for the full news article)