Seattle's new City Hall was designed with the environment in mind, using the most energy-efficient technologies. ... It also uses 15 percent to 50 percent more electricity some months than the older, larger building it replaced, according to Seattle City Light utility bills. [Some months use about the same amount.]So there goes $850 $500 million with the net benefit of bragging rights at conferences. And it's a debt burden on our future. What else? State employees pay about 11% of the cost of their health care. After this belt tightening they will be paying ... less than 12%. Many state employees get pay increases despite - or causing - the deficit that "required" raising taxes. The unions say those aren't pay increases, but step increases. They raise the employees pay. Isn't that an increase? [I haven't been able to verify if this is in the not-yet-final budget, though it was in every precedent.] Sound Politics 3/19/10 Priorities? Richard Davis asks why our Washington leaders are on auto pilot when so much has changed. They should be picking apart state programs to root out those that once made sense, but no longer do. So they can spend our limited funds on our current priorities. In Tacoma News Tribune:
... I’m thinking about lawmakers’ capacity to fool themselves about the state’s fiscal future. The inability to confront the new economic realities, of course, took the Legislature into extra innings, with most of the players picking flowers in the outfield. ... My impatience stems from this: The longest and deepest recession since World War II has yet to produce a fundamental reappraisal of the services state and local governments can realistically afford in the coming decade. Instead, the majority continues to treat the budget crisis as a spasm, a temporary contraction that will soon pass. Rather than reset, lawmakers have again bet on the come. Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, recently released a report identifying $8 billion in future costs stemming from budget decisions made by the 2009 and 2010 legislatures. While suspending the Initiative 728 “class size” initiative, lawmakers promise to restore it with interest next year. Ditto the I-732 cost-of-living pay hikes for teachers. And their failure to adequately fund pension obligations increases costs in coming years. As they duck current obligations, they commit themselves to new spending in the future. Among them: more taxpayer support for state employee health care, expanded early learning programs, and increased state aid to schools with low property tax bases.Davis concludes:
State government is doing too much and paying too much to do it. It can’t go on forever. So when will it stop?