Sunday, March 01, 2009

Senate Republicans say “Yes we can!” balance budget without tax hikes

"Yes, we can" balance Washington's budget without tax increases. Senate Republicans say “Yes we can!” balance budget without tax hikes - The Politics Blog - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington: Looks like Republicans really are worried that majority Democrats might try to raise taxes to help cover the budget shortfall of some $8 billion. But they’re still smiling about it. They just had large campaign-style buttons made up with an Obama-esque color scheme — mainly blue with white letters and a swash of red. "Yes we can!" the buttons say, with an asterisk followed by the words, "balance the budget without raising taxes." Senate GOP caucus spokeswoman Rebecca Japhet was handing out the buttons early this afternoon, and members should start popping up with them on lapels. Click here to see the button and a 17-page explanation from Republican Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield and his colleagues about how the budget-balancing feat can be accomplished. The GOP contends state general-fund revenues are still going to be up in the next biennium by about $600 million, despite last week’s revenue forecast that carved $1.6 billion in expected tax receipts for that two-year period alone. It doesn't mention that Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget assumed a $3 billion increase in caseloads for Medicaid, K-12 schools, prisons and other programs. The GOP explainer says gaps can be made up by taking several steps — including adding in savings from a recent belt-tightening measure, known as House Bill 1694 (some estimates are that it reduces state outlays by some $700 million over the next 2 ½ years). The GOP also says to add roughly $3 billion in federal stimulus funds and $700 million from the state’s rainy day fund, making the overall shortfall figure more manageable. And it suggests a pull-back on government expansion of recent years such as moving toward all-day state-funded kindergarten and covering all kids with health insurance; the Republicans also suggest reforms, or cuts, to subsidized health insurance for the working poor, cash grants and health coverage for unemployable adults; bilingual education; anti-smoking programs, learning improvement days and K-12 health-benefit purchasing. All told the GOP says a $1.1 billion cut in spending by June and another $1.5 billion cut for the following two-year cycle will do the trick. ... The Republicans' plans is here (pdf). Via Richard Davis at WashingtonACE.

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