Here's a collection of reactions to Gov. Gregoire's proposed budget cuts:
Interim Seattle Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield:
The Governor's proposal to increase class sizes by two students in grades 4-12 will result in an additional hit to our already strapped school district budget. Our classroom size is mandated by our teachers' contract so we have to pay for that contracted classroom size, even if we receive no money from the state. The suggested change to the state attendance policy to withdraw students after only five days of absence may save the state money, but will have the effect of increasing the dropout rate because the students will totally lose their connection with their school after five days.
Washington Education Association President Mary Lindquist:
Enough is enough. We've already slashed more than $2 billion in funding from Washington's public schools in the last few years. It's clear we also need new revenue. Washington's students need a quality education more than big businesses need tax breaks.
State Superintendent Randy Dorn:
I understand why the Governor must propose cuts and that this is just the beginning of the conversation, but these cuts can't happen. Levy equalization is used to fund basic education services for students, including required services in special education. And, what's more basic than hiring teachers to keep class sizes down in grades 4-12? The state has a constitutional responsibility to fund basic education first. We are not meeting that obligation today. These cuts would just make the situation worse in our schools.
University of Washington President Michael K. Young:
Over the past three years, state funding for the University of Washington has been cut in half. Despite 20% reductions in administrative budgets, over $30 million saved through greater efficiencies, and nearly 1,000 job losses, the UW has had to increase tuition steeply and limit access to the University in order to balance its budget. These choices are not sustainable.
The potential 20% budget reduction outlined today by Governor Gregoire would represent an additional $82 million cut in state support to the University of Washington- a loss of two thirds of our public funding in the past three years. After the cuts we've already experienced, adding these would impact our ability to keep the doors open for the citizens of Washington.
Possible elimination of the State Need Grant program threatens the continuation of our Husky Promise program that allows our lowest income students to pay no tuition to attend the University of Washington. Without this program, these students will lose the opportunity to get their college degree.
Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd
The Governor's proposed budget would have devastating consequences across our state with huge impacts on higher education, K-12 education and health and human services. This budget does not reflect core Washington values. At Washington State University, it would dramatically and directly impact our students. This disinvestment in our future generations undermines the future of Washington State. I will vigorously oppose these cuts at every level.
Washington State Hospital Association:
Today, the Governor released her budget roadmap to address the state s deep budget deficit. Health care is hit particularly hard and the proposed cuts to health care for our most vulnerable residents are staggering. People with serious disabilities and mental illnesses will lose their health coverage. Their health will worsen, and they could suffer disability or even death. Rural hospitals will face a 50 percent cut in payments for Medicaid patients and, if enacted, they will cut important services or even close. Rural areas could lose all access to obstetrical services, ambulances, and inpatient hospital care. Safety net and trauma hospitals will be cut deeply and will have a difficult time delivering the full scope of services they do today. These cuts undermine our health care system and will be felt for years to come.
AARP Washington's Ingrid McDonald:
Over the last three years the state has been fraying the safety net for vulnerable seniors, by reducing hours of care, cutting funding, and limiting services. Now the safety net for our most vulnerable is being ripped to shreds. Let s be clear: under this proposal tens of thousands of seniors will lose care. Many will see their health decline, face institutionalization, or even die.
Joint statement from state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D) and Sen. Ed Murray (D):
We want to acknowledge the hard work presented by the governor today. We know identifying these possibilities was difficult for her. Addressing our budget will be difficult for each legislator. Ultimately however, it will be the most difficult for the school students, parents, seniors and everyday citizens who will feel the bite of more cuts to the services they need.
House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (D):
The public is counting on us to act deliberatively and responsibly, keeping in mind not only the short-term effects on individuals and families, but also the possible long-term effects on the future of our state and our chances for an economic recovery. What kind of a state do we want to have coming out of this crisis?
State Sen. Joseph Zarelli (R):
The governor was not required to put any of her ideas on the table this soon, so I appreciate her willingness to go ahead and share this list. While she decides which of these options to include in her supplemental budget proposal, the Senate will continue to work in a bipartisan fashion, with committee chairs and ranking members collaborating to reach spending targets, recommend long-term reforms that will make government smarter and more cost-effective, and identify policy areas for performance audits.
I agree with the governor when she says government cannot do it all. It will be up to the Legislature to decide what government should and should not be doing, and at what cost to taxpayers. We managed to accomplish that earlier this year, in a bipartisan manner, and that is my goal again.
Washington Policy Center's Jason Mercier:
The question lawmakers will face when they return next month is which budget strategy will have the biggest impact on the state's economy: implementing budget cuts or resorting to multi-billion dollar tax hikes.
Back in 2009, 32 economists signed an open letter to state elected officials warning that tax increases during a recession will damage Washington s economy and hamper economic recovery.
It is likely the same holds true today especially as we teeter on the edge of a double dip recession.
Here are some ideas for structural budget reforms that we provided the Governor earlier this month.
Sightline Institute's Eric de Place:
... I can knock out one-fifth of the state s budget problem right now -- $344 million in new state revenue -- just by closing a single tax loophole designed to boost car sales. Plus, closing that loophole would provide an additional $106 million to cash-strapped local governments over the next biennium.
Too good to be true? Hardly. Check out the Washington Department of Revenue s most recent Tax Exemption report. (It s circa 2008 with a new one due out next year.) If you can make it through to page 288 of the full report, you ll find the goldmine I m talking about: ol RCW 82.08.010, better known as the trade-ins exemption. As the name implies, the law exempts trade-ins from sales tax by defining the purchase price of an item, the price eligible for taxation, as the price of the item minus the price of a trade-in item. So if I trade in a $5,000 used car in order to buy a $20,000 new car, I only pay taxes on the $15,000 balance.
By contrast, if I sell my used car to a private buyer, he would legally be required to pay sales tax on my $5,000 car, and then I would pay sales tax on the $20,000 new car I buy. So the trade-ins loophole is a very sweet deal for car dealerships. And it is mostly about car dealerships. Vehicles constitute by far the dominant share of trade-ins, though there are other items like farm equipment and boats that are also commonly traded in.