Legislative preview Wringing out every penny

first_imgThe curtain rises Monday on a 2011 Washington Legislature where hard questions are sure to elicit painful answers.Legislators must adopt a state spending plan that covers a $1.1 billion deficit through June 30. Then, write a budget that trims another $4.6 billion, perhaps even more, through mid-2013.Every state program is up for scrutiny, Olympia leaders pledge. The budget ax will be relentless and will spare few causes or constituencies.There’s no salve for the wounds, either.Voters emphatically rejected tax hikes on sales of soda or sugary snacks and on high-income earners that would have boosted the state’s cash flow.Further, they restored a two-thirds majority Legislature vote on tax or fee proposals, months after Democratic leaders in hot pursuit of scarce dollars had voided Tim Eyman’s previous tax-limits measure.With no new revenue source and Washington’s economy still moribund, legislators must produce an “all cuts” budget on which accounting tricks and stop-gap measures just won’t do.Really.“We’ve used all the gimmicky kind of stuff. We’re at a point where we’ll truly have to mean it when we say we’ll have to reduce spending,” said veteran Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield.last_img

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