October 27, 2011

All-cuts budget options announced; urge legislators to cut tax breaks and raise revenue

Read the message at
Governor Gregoire today presented a list of budget reduction alternatives that lawmakers may use to resolve the state’s budget deficit. The list is long and the cuts basically decimate the state’s safety net.

Here’s a quick overview: elimination or reduction of supervision by Community Corrections Officers; closure of Rainier School and loss of services for the developmentally disabled; closure of two civil wards and two wards caring for patients with dementia and traumatic brain injury at our state hospitals; closure of juvenile youth camp (we believe this to be Naselle, our only remaining youth camp) and reductions to JRA caseload; elimination of medical interpreter services; elimination of basic health; increased caseloads for CA social workers; and unfortunately there’s more.

The governor stated she is not seeking further pay cuts to state workers, however the list includes a number of cuts that could considered: 10 additional furlough days; additional 1% salary reduction for one year; increase health contributions from 15-25%; and suspension of step increases for one year.

Expect the governor to release her budget proposal CORRECTION after the Nov. 17 revenue forecase, likely Thanksgiving weekend. Special Session begins Nov. 28.

CALL TO ACTION: Tell legislators to cut tax breaks and raise revenue. 

Pressed about revenue, the governor said her focus is in cuts in order to present a balanced budget. “If congress had done its job in August; if the European economy wasn’t in crisis and stabilized; and if Washingtonians were buying more,” things would be different. But we don’t have control of these things.

The governor denied she is making a case for revenue to the public. “This is what the cuts look like.” Legislative leadership from both sides of the aisle have approached her in respect to revenue, but nothing was release showing us what form the revenue would take nor the programs most likely to see the benefit of revenue.

Cuts to mental health services were identified as particularly troubling. Those who need the services may turn to crime or turn to emergency services that could result in higher costs. “They aren’t going to be fine.”

It doesn’t make sense to hand out tax breaks to big banks and special interests at the same time we’re raising tuition and putting people with disabilities and mental illness out on the streets.

It doesn’t make sense to continue corporate welfare while cutting public health and public safety.

If implemented, these cuts would cost our state thousands of jobs and set back our economic recovery. These cuts do more to hurt the middle class and widen the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us. Legislators need to take a vote to end tax breaks and raise revenue.

No comments: