Monday, October 13, 2008

KIng County Budget Leaders Pass the Buck and Will Ask For New State Taxes

Tough problems require tough decisions.

The economy has been feeling a downturn for months... months before "economic crisis" became a public catch phrase for "What the heck happened to my retirement?" Or, as younger citizens would put it, "Oh NO...we are going to lose our home/job!"

We are now in the process of watching a huge crescendo of impacts working their way through the economy and through government. The country is preparing for a financial Katrina. It is heading toward us and the world. It is a matter of how fast we can build the dikes and levies! Households, businesses, and governments will be affected.

So, King County government leaders have sent out a press release telling us all how they are responding. I probably read it verbatim in the Encumclaw Courier Herald.

The ubiquitous "bi-partisan" effort is politically safe for everyone, they reason. I guess the Republicans are using the Congressional model. And, in this case they figure why not? No one wants to do the tough thing and cut existing programs. No one wants that on their record and yet no one seems to want to take the leadership and do what will undoubtedly be necessary.

No one should want to duck and assume the "let someone else do the taxing model" either. We want our leaders to have a sound and informed idea of what they will need to cut. Where is the "How Will We Hone Government Committee? Without that, the counties will have little say in what the state will or will not fund! We need to hear from the counties and we want those council members and commissioners to tell us they have talked to their taxpayers!

Or will those discussions all be behind closed doors? Don't we want our leaders to have meetings in their districts and ask the tough questions? shouldn't there be a ranking of priorities by our taxpayers? Why are they waiting for that?

The press release reads, "We invite you to share your priorities with us at one of six public meetings." Then the budget will be adopted in November. "The budget will put basic services first and will incorporate every savings and efficiency." Good.

There is no mention of program cuts. That will be left to the legislature.

(The press release mentions the solutions that average people are implementing. Well, average people not only don't but the new car...they cut off the cable TV.)

The two democrat and two republican member panel calling itself the "Budget Leadership Team" has announced that they will suspend new hiring, keep motor vehicles longer, eliminate overtime and eliminate unnecessary communications,(but, maybe I want my government to let me know what they are doing with my money...), and freeze construction spending. No government programs under their proposal will be reduced or eliminated.

They want the legislature to do be the "bad guy." So, the council will go into a holding pattern until the legislature meets.

"In the long term," the King County Council...bipartisan...budget writes, "the state Legislature must engage in a serious discussion of broadening the base of revenues that support state mandates and the public services provided by all 39 counties in Washington state."

They will all, "bipartisanly"(newly needed word)come to Olympia and ask for new state taxes.

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