As readers know, from time to time moi puts out alerts for breaking news or to highlight an important story. This is a first for moi. Peeps, this is A Red Disaster Alert: The Washington state budget is totally tanking. In In Many Western States The Trifecta of Idoicy Is Destroying Education At All Levels moi said:
In many states in the western half of the country there is the initiative and referendum process which has the effect of allowing lawmakers to abrogate their responsibility for setting realistic priorities and goals. At the same time, voters can vote themselves tax cuts on the one hand, while giving themselves little bennies which cost money and may have nothing to do with a realistic budget or what should be public interest goals on the other hand. Finally, this country has the best government money can buy which produces priorities which often have nothing to do with the long term health and well-being of this society. One only has to say Goldman Sucks, oops Goldman Sachs to understand what is meant by the preceding sentence. In other words, the trifecta of idiocy….
I am shocked, I tell you shocked that California’s budget is in meltdown and Washington’s budget is not looking much better. Not. See, Thiis Was Expected, Washington Universities Cut Way Back
Andrew Garber is reporting in the Seattle Times article, Additional $1.2 Billion Hole in State Revenue Projected – Expect More Cuts
Officials were stunned to learn Thursday that the state is expected to take in $1.2 billion less in tax revenue than previously thought between now and June 2013, the latest grim result of an economy creeping toward recovery.
The bleak forecast means the state will have to cut $385 million more from the budget for the current fiscal year, which runs through next June — on top of a $520 million across-the-board cut the governor ordered in September….
n addition, the shortfall for the next two-year budget has grown by more than $800 million, to a whopping $5.7 billion — roughly 18 percent of the current state budget, which is about $32.3 billion when you include federal aid.
The forecast takes into account voter approval of Initiative 1107, which repealed taxes on soda, candy and bottled water, but the drop is largely the result of a generally dismal outlook for the economy and an expectation that tax collections will be lower than previously projected.
Even before the latest news, the governor’s office had been scrambling to decide where to make unprecedented cuts in areas such as health care for the poor. The state has already ordered cuts to programs such as hospice care, dental care and prescriptions for adults on Medicaid.
“We’ve been meeting every day” with the governor, said Marty Brown, Gregoire’s budget director. “We’ve had people leave the room in tears over some of the things we’ve had to decide on.
“We’ve had her (Gregoire) come to the conclusion that as ugly as this is, it’s easier than it was in the past because we don’t have any choices,” he said. “It’s not, ‘Well, I can do this or that.’ It’s, ‘Both are gone.’ “
Thursday’s news means deeper cuts, but no quick answers as to where to make them.
Brown said the magnitude of the shortfall, just in the current fiscal year, is now larger than the governor can deal with on her own.
For the most part, state law allows Gregoire to make only across-the-board cuts without Legislative approval. “We’ve moved beyond across-the-board cuts now,” Brown said….
Voters this month made it nearly impossible to turn to tax increases as a way to avoid cuts. In addition to approving I-1107, they also passed an initiative that requires a two-thirds vote in the state House and Senate, or voter approval, to increase taxes.
Given the political makeup in the Legislature, it’s a near certainty lawmakers won’t increase taxes.
Democrats control both houses, though their majority was narrowed by Republican gains in the election. It’s hard to imagine the two sides agreeing on new revenue.
Nor is there any expectation that Congress will approve another bailout for the states. The federal government helped prop up state budgets with billions in aid during the past two years.
Raha made no promises for the future.
“Uncertainty will continue to prevail until a new normal, whatever that may be, eventually settles in,” he said. “We are essentially in uncharted territory … Forecasting is like driving a car forward, looking only in the rearview mirror. If it hasn’t happened before, your model will not see it coming.”
Perhaps even more unsettling was this warning during Raha’s presentation: “The downside risks remain higher than the upside.”
Links from The Olympian provide background on the state budget meltdown mess:
State budget boss rejects lower revenue forecast
More state cuts near
WA tax collections plummet again, deficit swells
UPDATE: $203 million loss in state revenues forecast
Gregoire to sign order for budget cuts Monday
At some point, budget cuts will lead to deep cuts in education if we proceed at the current lunatic trajectory. What is needed now is a legislative commission to totally rethink state government and government priorities.
The Perfect Storm Is Posed to Hit Education
Washington State Budget Meltdown Mess Update: The Perfect Storm Posed to Hit Education
Teachable Moment: Cash Sluts, Credit Crunch Weasels, The Washington State Budget and You
Alert: Washington State Revenue Plunges This Is A Disaster for Kids and Families
The Magnitude of the Washington State Budget Meltdown Mess Is Emerging
Dr. Wilda may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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