Monday, January 11, 2010

"Seattle Times Riffs Off GOP Talking Point"

Josh Feit (Publicola):
The Seattle Times’ Andrew Garber has a good introduction to this year’s legislative session in Olympia.

This year’s 60-day session starts tomorrow under the cloud of an unprecedented budget crisis. With a $2.6 billion budget shortfall on top of last year’s $9 billion shortfall—and it’s likely to get worse in coming months—legislators are fretting over painful cuts and dreaded taxes.

Summing up, Garber’s succinct lead paragraph goes like this:

OLYMPIA — Last year was bad. This year is worse. The future won’t be much better.

I do have one quibble with Garber’s report, though. Riffing off the GOP mantra about the Democratic-controlled legislature, he writes:

The state landed in this jam because the Legislature used a rapid rise in tax revenue, fueled by booms in housing and consumer spending, to increase spending 31 percent during Gov. Chris Gregoire’s first term.

That’s accurate, but it makes it sound like state government ran amok during the Gregoire years.

Here’s a more detailed perspective: The “rapid rise in tax revenue” that Garber cites did not come from any tax increases. The 31 percent increase in spending tacks precisely to a 31 percent increase in revenues Revenues were $22.5 billion in 2003 and they grew by 31 percent to $29.5 billion in 2007. The 31 percent growth in government supported the expanding infrastructure and workforce accordingly and followed the post dot-com crash years when services had been cut and demands for services were pent up.

As the (left-leaning) Washington Budget & Policy Center has pointed out time and time again—in relation to the state’s economy, over the course of Gregoire’s run as governor, the state budget has remained static and has actually gotten smaller.

Howie P.S.: At first, I thought the headline said "rips off."

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