Governor Gregoire is at it again, proposing another tax hike to deal with yet another budget deficit. We’ve seen this story before: the legislature in Olympia patches together a budget that just barely balances, with a proposed tax increase as the glue to keep it from falling apart. But because Initiative 1053 is still in effect (two similar initiatives having previously been enacted and subsequently gutted), the tax increase must go to a vote of the people. So the people of Washington will vote down another tax increase (as they did twice in 2010), the legislature will return to try to patch the budget, and the whole process starts again.
Does anyone really expect that the Governor’s proposed
half percent half billion dollar increase in the sales tax will not go down to defeat by a similar 60+% margin? By kicking the can down the road to an election in March, more time is wasted and the decisions just get that much tougher. But that is not the worse of it: in order to assist the voters in getting “their mind right”, the Governor suggests the new budget should include deep cuts; not to non-essential services, but to education, criminal justice and other necessary programs popular with the voting public. In a cynical move, these cuts are little more than hostages to be freed once the public coughs up the necessary new tax funds. If, as I suspect, the voters of Washington refused to pay this blackmail, the legislature will be back in Olympia re-writing the budget to back-fill the priority programs and start making the cuts they should have in the first place.
For once, couldn’t we just skip this nonsense and work on a budget that makes the tough decisions and so doesn’t require a special session every few months?