Washington Deficit Talk Misleading

Published September 23, 2008

Dear Editor:

Governor Gregoire’s office has said “She is not looking to raise taxes at this time.” For taxpayers’ sake, we can only hope she won’t be singing another tune come budget time (“State facing a projected $3.2 billion deficit in next budget,” September 19).

Using words such as “shortfall” and “deficit” to describe Washington’s budget is somewhat misleading, as doing so gives citizens the sense that government will be taking in less money than it was in previous years. That is not the case.

Instead of the $5.6 billion budget increase legislators were expecting, state revenue will increase by “only” $2.4 billion next year. This is evidence the state is not experiencing a shortage of revenue, but rather an excess of spending.

Since the governor took office in 2004, state spending has increased a whopping $8 billion–more than 30 percent. Spending practices such as expanding the state’s workforce by the thousands is one reason the state is facing a budget problem.

The governor is right to take tax increases off the table. That is a good start to putting the state’s budget back in order, because raising taxes instead of reducing expenditures would cause Washington residents and the economy to suffer while doing little to prevent future deficits.

John Nothdurft ([email protected]is the budget and tax legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute.