The thing that could send the honorables into overtime is, as always, the state’s general operating budget, which they’ve spent nearly two months trying to update from last year’s marathon session. As usual, the amount of available revenue is outstripped by many good ideas to improve the state, and the two parties don’t agree on the best way to make the books balance.
Democrats often get the rap for not living within the state’s means, and this year didn’t disabuse many critics of that by trying to eliminate tax exemptions at which they’ve taken aim, and missed, for years. The yawns that accompanied the announcement of their tax package might’ve served as the soundtrack for a mattress store commercial.
While not advocating any tax increases, Republicans were not innocent of budget maneuvers that would add more black to the state’s books. Most controversial was a proposal to combine a pair of the state’s oldest pension systems, one which covers cops and firefighters, with another for school employees. Based on the reaction from grizzled veterans of various law enforcement agencies around the state, they might want to make sure all their tail lights are working and stay well below the speed limit for a while.
Since both positions have significant hurdles, Spin Control has some suggestions to boost state revenue that they could consider if budget negotiations break down. Remembering that taxes and fees aren’t just a method of making money, but of trying to encourage good behavior or discourage obnoxious activity, maybe lawmakers could consider these:
Spin Control, a weekly column by Olympia reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items and reader comments at www.spokesman.com/ blogs/spincontrol.
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