LETTER TO THE EDITOR | A legacy of disaster
December 16, 2009 · Updated 9:00 AM
To the editor:
The 2010 Legislative session is just over a month away, and it is time to remember what took place last year. After her many campaign claims that there was no deficit, Gov. Gregoire’s duplicity was unmasked when the Legislature reported that there was actually a $9-billion shortfall. Five billion of it was unsustainable even in a good economy.
In spite of this, both last year and this year, the Legislature continued adding new programs and passing bills that will cost even more. Some government programs have tripled their budgets. In the last few years the state budget has increased in size over 25 percent. There seems to be a reality disconnect in the majority party.
In spite of a horrendous deficit, no long-range plan was adopted; no difficult prioritizing was done. Instead, the budget was balanced by robbing the infrastructure or long-range funds of most government departments and cobbling this together with $3 billion in one-time federal stimulus money. That was called the budget. It was a travesty. In the quiet halls of our capitol, even Democrats were heard to whisper, “What will we do next year?”
Just remember, when we have something like a bridge collapse here, as they have had in other places, the kind of actions — over many years — that causes these types of catastrophies. Also, remember, regardless of who is in office at the time, how things got to such a pass. It takes time to achieve those disasters, and we have had Democratic governors and a mostly Democrat-controlled Legislature since
1984. Unless something changes, we are ripe for disaster.
Almost everything has gone downhill during that period. Our education system, once one of the best in the nation, is in disarray. Although more than $11,000 is collected per student, the administrative bureaucracy has grown to the point that local school districts barely receive enough to do the job.
The state pension system is $8 billion in debt, and yet vocal unions still cry for (and expect) raises. Prisoners are being released because legislators have not prioritized our safety. Corporations, over-taxed and over-regulated, are leaving Washington — taking jobs, income, and potential tax revenues with them. Costly mandates — demanded by legislators — have driven prices up, hampered small government and caused many medical and dental professionals to leave Washington.
A major restructuring of government is needed. Will this year’s Legislature — two- thirds Democratic — have the guts to do the right thing? Based on its record over the past two years, one is forced to say no, they will not.