Schmudget Blog

Governor's Budget would Reduce Opportunity for Students from Preschool to University

Posted by jeffc at Dec 16, 2009 03:00 PM |
Filed under: State Budget

The table below lists key budget cuts in education from the Governor's proposal released last week. (Click on it for a larger version.)


Governor’s Forthcoming Revenue Proposal Only a Drop in the Bucket

Posted by jeffc at Dec 11, 2009 08:35 AM |
Filed under: State Budget, State Revenue

In the 2010 legislative session, Washington State will have to address the continuing effects of the economic recession. Governor Gregoire has signaled a willingness to take a more balanced approach between cuts and revenue enhancements. In the context of the total size of the fiscal impacts of the recession, however, her revenue proposal will only be a drop in the bucket and will not save crucial services.

During the last session, the state cut $3.6 billion in public services—cuts that will hurt state priorities such as the quality of education at every level, the availability of affordable health insurance, and the quality of our health care infrastructure. There were a few pieces of legislation that raised revenue, but no meaningful tax increases.*

The Governor’s budget proposal that was released on Wednesday follows in the same vein, with no revenue increases and $1.6 billion in cuts. However, the Governor also announced that she would introduce a second budget in January that would include roughly $1 billion in cuts and $700 million in revenue increases.

The Governor's proposal is a start to the conversation, but a bolder, more balanced approach is needed.

First of all, the $700 million would do nothing to save programs that help working families pay for child care, prevent costly health problems by supporting at-risk pregnant women, and clean up toxic sites. These are just a few of many cuts proposed in the Governor’s first budget proposal that she has not signaled will be protected in her second proposal.

And even with the Governor’s forthcoming revenue proposal, the approach the state has taken to the total budget shortfall will still be severely imbalanced. Combining the Governor’s proposal with the previously enacted revenue policy, revenue increases would only make up eight percent of the total solution to an over $11 billion problem (see graph below). Cuts in core public services will total 40 percent.



* Revenue legislation passed in the 2009 session gave the Department of Revenue more oversight of purchases for resale, authorized multi-state lottery agreements, increased out-of-state auditing, and opened new liquor stores.

Governor's Budget will Create Costly Problems Down the Road

Posted by jeffc at Dec 10, 2009 10:10 AM |

The budget cuts released yesterday by the Governor include several items that would only end up creating more costly problems down the road. This approach will diminish the quality of life for thousands of Washingtonians now and in the future. It also defers higher costs to the state that will inhibit our economic recovery going forward.

Budget cuts to state investments that focus on prevention and other longer-term benefits include the following:

  • The budget would suspend all funding ($13.9 million) for non-emergency dental care for adult clients of Medicaid. This will have a direct impact on the health of 120,000 Washingtonians. Further, by not funding prevention and early treatment, the budget will likely increase the need for more expensive emergency dental care in the future.
  • The budget proposes eliminating all state-funded early learning programs for three-year olds from lower income families ($10.5 million), directly affecting 1,500 children. High quality early learning programs set the stage for success in life and are expected to confer economic benefits to the state in the future.
  • The budget significantly reduces funding for the Water Quality Program, a cut that will damage our ability to plan for healthy water. Ensuring the quality of our water through preventing and cleaning up water pollution has a direct impact on human and environmental health in communities throughout the state. Neglecting this government responsibility will be costly to reverse.
  • The budget would mean that over 65,000 people would lose health coverage by eliminating the Basic Health program ($160.6 million) and sharply limit the availability of childcare assistance ($88.5 million) to working families. State investments in health insurance and childcare help to encourage and support employment for families that are struggling to stay out of poverty.
  • Family preservation services seek to preserve or reunite families. They assist families in crisis by improving parenting skills and family functioning. Children are protected while being able to remain in their own families. The Governor’s budget would slash funding for these programs in half ($5.9 million).
  • The budget would eliminate funding ($28.1 million) that reduces premature births and infant mortality by providing support for lower-income women with at-risk pregnancies. Without these support services, families and the state will inherit more costly problems down the road.

An Imbalanced Budget

Posted by jeffc at Dec 09, 2009 08:40 AM |
Filed under: State Budget

Governor Gregoire released her 2010 supplemental budget proposal this morning. It includes $1.6 billion in cuts to essential public structures that promote health, education, economic security, and safe and thriving communities.

As required by law, the budget works inside existing revenue constraints. The Governor acknowledged her concern over this budget and plans to release a second budget that will include necessary revenue increases in order to avoid the most damaging cuts.

The Governor is right to be concerned about the effects this budget would have on Washington’s economy and people during these tough economic times. A balanced approach that includes meaningful revenue increases is a better alternative.

The budget released today proposes completely eliminating or suspending efforts including (this is only a partial list):

  • Basic Health, which provides affordable health insurance to 65,000 people.
  • General Assistance for the Unemployable, which provides help to people who are unable to work because of disability.
  • Health insurance coverage for 16,000 lower income children.
  • Benefits for Medicaid clients including vision, podiatry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, prescription drug assistance for elderly patients, hospice care, dental, and maternity support.
  • Funding to send more than 1,500 3-year-olds to preschool.
  • State support for all-day kindergarten in high-poverty areas.
  • Class size reduction efforts.
  • A program that equalizes school funding between wealthy and poor school districts.
  • Tuition assistance for over 12,000 lower-income students.

Stay tuned to schmudget for more analysis of the Governor’s budget.

The Unprotected Budget

Posted by jeffc at Dec 03, 2009 03:05 PM |
Filed under: State Budget

Primarily as a result of the recession, Washington State, like most states, is now facing a large deficit ($2.6 billion). As we pointed out in our recent slideshow on the state economic and fiscal outlook, most of the budget is off-limits to cuts. This means that an all-cuts budget would require elimination of entire programs and services.

A new presentation by the Senate Ways and Means Committee staff provides more detail on this issue. They estimate that only $7.7 billion of the state budget is vulnerable to cuts in the coming session, with programs that provide economic security for lower income Washingtonians being especially exposed.

They break down the $7.7 billion into three categories: 1) timing (nearly $10 billion will already be spent by the time the new budget is signed), 2) legal restrictions such as state constitutional requirements, federal law, and debt and pension obligations, and 3) strings attached to the federal recovery funds.

Budget S W&M 12_3_09_Page_09.png

The graph below breaks down the vulnerable part of the budget into program areas.

Budget S W&M 12_3_09_Page_10.png

They also provide a possible scenario (see table below) to illustrate what $2.6 billion in cuts could mean. It includes elimination of financial aid, the Basic Health Plan, in-home services for clients with long-term care needs or developmental disabilities, and money that is used to equalize school funding between rich and poor districts.

Budget S W&M 12_3_09_Page_11.png

The economy wreaks more havoc on the state budget

Posted by jeffc at Nov 19, 2009 08:40 AM |
Filed under: State Budget, State Revenue

Today’s updated revenue forecast only made it more essential for the governor and lawmakers to take a balanced approach between spending cuts and revenue increases this upcoming legislative session.

The new forecast lowered the state’s expected revenue by another $760 million, bringing the total shortfall to $2.6 billion.

The continually worsening outlook comes at a time when Washingtonians need public structures more than ever. With the unemployment rate at its highest level since 1984, the need for the health care system, education and job training, and income supports become more important than ever.

We need a balanced approach to dealing with impacts of the recession on the budget, one that combines careful cuts with smart revenue increases, such as a combination of a retail sales tax increase with the Working Families Rebate.

We’ll have a lengthier analysis of the economic and budget situation tomorrow.

Revenue Forecast Tomorrow Will Show Growing Deficit

Posted by jeffc at Nov 18, 2009 12:25 PM |
Filed under: State Budget, State Revenue

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council will release tomorrow their latest projection of how much revenue the state will raise in the 2009-11 biennium. It will likely be the ninth straight revenue forecast that has brought bad news to Washington State, revealing a deficit that could be as high as $2.5 billion.

Over the last six months, the ongoing economic recession has pummeled away at our state’s budget outlook. Last May when the Governor signed the current budget, lawmakers expected an ending fund balance of nearly half a billion dollars plus $250 million in the rainy day fund for the 2009-11 biennium. Since then, the recession and other factors have instead combined to create a $2 billion shortfall.

This forecast is particularly important because it will set the parameters for the Governor’s budget proposal, which is expected to be released in about three weeks. Because of the worsening outlook, the Governor’s budget will likely propose deep cuts in core public structures, on top of those already passed last session. These cuts come at a time when Washingtonians can least afford them.

It's time to talk about a more balanced solution that includes revenue in order to protect our essential investments in public priorities.

Stay tuned for new analysis of the state budget and possible solutions in the coming days.

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Our Seattle Policy Summit

You can watch our Budget Matters 2017 Seattle Policy Summit, which took place on December 6, online. The first part of the day (watch here) featured Washington State Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib and Race Forward President Glenn Harris. The second part of the day (watch here) featured Budget & Policy Center Senior Policy Analyst Jennifer Tran, and a panel of local leaders moderated by Michael Brown of the Seattle Foundation. 

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