New Senate Budget is Neither Sustainable nor Compassionate
The new Senate budget that emerged on Friday cuts an additional $640 million from the public structures necessary to improve our economy, create jobs, and protect Washingtonians from the lingering impact of the economic downturn. While proponents claim the new budget is more sustainable, in reality it is just the opposite.
The proposal would slash key public investments, further undermining our economic progress and well-being. It would delay payments of $133 million for pension plans, pushing added costs into the next budget cycle. And, the proposal’s failure to address our systemic revenue problems would make our budget less sustainable over time.
Under the proposed budget, the largest portion of the cuts, 44 percent, would come from economic security— supports that are badly needed as families attempt to recover from the economic downturn (see graph below). Additionally, the proposed Senate budget would further undermine education and opportunity, and our ability to ensure the health of people and the environment.
For each of these areas the Senate budget would:
Healthy People & Environment
- Eliminate medical care for 15,500 people who cannot work due to a disability.
- Cut Family Planning grants that keep women healthy during pregnancy, promote positive birth outcomes, and reduce the amount of unintended pregnancies.
- Reduce environmental health risk prevention services, including monitoring of water systems.
Education and Opportunity
- Cut K-12 education by over $40 million including reductions to efforts that prevent students from dropping out of school, investments that help kids learn to read, support for the School for the Blind, and initiatives to ensure kids enter school ready to learn.
- Cut $38 million from higher education institutions, which would lead to higher tuition costs for students and families.
- Eliminate child care support for 4,000 working parents.
- Eliminate food assistance for 12,000 legal immigrants.
- Cut $53 million in housing support for people with disabilities and eliminate homeless assistance funding.
- Eliminate work support for 2,000 families by imposing a 48 month time limit for child care, job support and income assistance.
Washingtonians have already experienced the devastating consequences of billions being cut from core public structures that are essential to our quality of life. As a result, our public education system is eroding, health care is being dismantled, low income children and families have less access to adequate food and shelter, public safety is at risk, and our natural environment is threatened. It doesn’t have to be this way. There is still time to implement sensible revenue reforms that will make our state budget sustainable in the long-term and keep Washington a great place to live.
Reform of our revenue system is the single most important factor in building a sustainable state budget. As we showed last week, our dependence on the sales tax currently prevents us from maintaining a sustainable investment in the public structures Washingtonians’ value most.