Friday, June 23, 2017

State Budget Update: Nothing Happening Here (with Dire Consequences Coming)

These tweets say it all:

17h17 hours ago
McCleary Crime Scene Retweeted Crosscut
Great & their enabler get to hold the 4th of July hostage, as the political brinkmanship over continues.

If the can't pass a budget by June 30, the state's 125 parks will be closed for Fourth of July.
If the Washington Legislature cannot pass a 2017-2019 by June 30 — a Friday — then the state’s 125 parks will start closing that same day and be totally shut down on July 1. “We’re still hopeful that a deal will happen, but we have to plan for the worst,” said parks commission spokesperson Virginia Painter.

The closure on a peak recreational weekend would be just the start of the gut punches for the public from even a partial shutdown. Officials are also preparing to cut off meal services for 50,000 of the state’s older residents, child-care assistance for 52,000 children of working low-income families, and payments for health services for nearly 2 million people covered by Medicaid. And that’s just the surface of the cuts in services and support.
Inslee has said he won’t approve any extension of the 2015-2017 budget as a stopgap measure so budget negations can go beyond June 30, the constitutional deadline for a new budget. 
So what else isn't happening?
The big differences include how much money to put into education, what if any new taxes or tax increases are needed, and whether to make tax increases dependent on voter approval in November. No one is saying what concessions the two parties may have made so far in budget negotiations.

A bill to create carve out a separate Department of Children, Youth & Families from the Department of Social & Health Services easily passed the House with bipartisan support, but has stalled in the Senate. “We don’t want it to be trade bait,” Inslee said earlier this week. A bill to stop internet service providers from selling customers’ personal information without their consent also overwhelmingly passed the House and is supported by the majority of the Senate. But Senate GOP leaders have so far stopped that bill from going to a floor vote.

On the other side, the Democratic-controlled House has stalled a Senate bills to deal with a 2016 state Supreme Court decision on digging new wells. While this issue is below the radar in urban Seattle, it is a hot topic across the rest of the state because it has largely brought rural home construction to a halt. The so-called Hirst ruling says that a landowner must prove a new well won’t threaten nearby stream levels needed for fish. This has sparked intense negotiations between development and environmentalist interests. This bill is on the GOP’s “must pass” list.

6 comments:

Steve said...

"Officials are also preparing to cut ...payments for health services for nearly 2 million people covered by Medicaid."

Seems like a dry run for what the dismantling of Obamacare/Affordable Care Act will bring if it is approved by Congress. I wonder if state legislators really want to give this preview...

Steve

Jeremy said...

They can't seem to find money to fully fund education, so why not cut costs? The last week, my kids have been spending most of their time watching movies. No learning would be lost if a week or two were removed from the end of the school year. (High school final exams are done. AP/IB tests were completed a month ago!) The state has a constitutional duty to fund education. Let them do that now, and worry about babysitting later.

Outsider said...

If misery loves company, you might be relieved to hear that Illinois is even worse off:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/a-look-at-illinois-budget-mess-as-lawmakers-head-to-capitol/2017/06/20/fb03db40-55d8-11e7-840b-512026319da7_story.html
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-illinois-legis-education-workers-comp-met-0623-20170622-story.html

Funny thing is, Illinois already has an income tax (with constant pressure to raise it). But they have all the same problems as WA. Funny how adding the income tax didn't help in the end. It tells you a lot about how politics and government finances really work, if you are willing to pay face the lesson.

You might optimistically assume that tax money supports the public good, and more tax money would support more good. But in reality, tax money disappears into the pockets of people well positioned to manipulate the system -- crony capitalists, grifters, politicians and their friends, and public employee unions. The biggest problem for Illinois is an unfunded and ultimately unpayable $250 billion liability for public employee pensions. The state is literally facing bankruptcy because of that. And they have an income tax.

An income tax would be a giant new gravy pipe in Olympia, which in the short run might fund useful services. But it would also galvanize all the groups who know how to get gravy in the state capital. In the long run, it doesn't matter what taxes exist, or how high they go. In the long run, services valuable to the public will always be cut to the bone, as the crony capitalists, grifters, and unions take all the surplus. I am not just imagining that. Look at Illinois to see what lies down that path.

Bob G said...

Yup, shut 'er down. If the state can't be bothered to fulfill its paramount duty, it's dysfunctional. Shut it down until legislators start caring enough to do their jobs. No art, PE, librarians, or pencils? My rear end! State paying for only 65% of each teacher? B.S. Shut it down, fix it right.

Anonymous said...

The end of year movie watching is out of control - and my kids are in high school! We get that students and teachers are tired, but can they really not come up with some simple activities for the last few days? Do some interesting math that's beyond the syllabus. Let them spend some time - gasp - writing constructive feedback about the class. Have them write thank you notes to staff. Help juniors write a practice college essay.

small rant

Melissa Westbrook said...

What the teacher in the class I tutored in had me do - because now there was time - was to take kids out who had advanced reading skills and see how big their vocabulary was. Amazing to see the skill in being able to sound out words. It was good feedback for their parents but work we couldn't do before in order to help the kids who needed more attention to get those skills.

She also allowed them more time to free play (this is kindergarten) and they did art projects and lego and computer games.