News Sneak Peek at GOP Message
posted by April 20 at 13:51 PMon
I hung out with former state GOP chair Chris Vance this morning. He’s currently working as a Republican consultant—most recently working against the PBDE ban in Olympia. (He lost.)
Anyway, he laid out Dino Rossi’s strategy for 2008, which is: Bash Gov. Gregoire for expanding the budget by one third. He doesn’t have that quite right, but he’s not way off. If you don’t adjust for inflation, the increase between the ‘03-05 budget and the brand new budget is not a third, but it is nearly 26%.
The budget that Gov. Gregoire inherited, the ‘03-05 budget, was $25.5 billion. Her ‘05-07 budget was $29.6 billion—a 16% increase.
She’s about to pass a $30.1 billion general fund budget—an 8% increase. Obviously, that first 16% jump accounts for most of the so-called expansion, the aforementioned 26%.
But, keep in mind, the ‘03-05 budget was a recession budget, and when the economy came bouncing back, there was ground to make up.
And this isn’t the way you should compare budgets over time anyway. Indeed, the right way to do it is to look at what percentage the state budget represents of the overall economy. After all, as the economy grows, the state has a responsibility to service it and keep it humming by meeting education, transportation, health, and regulatory needs.
And the fact is: Gregoire’s budget is consistent with every budget going back 10 years. Including the Rossi/Locke budget. It’s about 6.1% of all income earned by Washingtonians, a common way of looking at the size of state government, according to this report by the Washington Budget and Policy Center. The Rossi/Locke budget clocked in at 6%.
Moreover, Gregoire is hardly “expanding” government. In fact, she’s still playing catch-up to meet our needs. Education is a perfect example. The $1 billion in “new” education spending isn’t really all new spending—the budget is just finally making good on long-standing voter initiatives 728 and 732 to reduce class sizes and give teachers cost-of-living increases. It also includes back-filling pensions that were supposed to be funded in the ‘03-05 budget, as well as the first installment of estate tax spending on education. These are all things the voters have demanded.
So, the onus bounces back to Dino Rossi and the GOP. If Gregoire has actually “expanded” government, what should get cut?