State budget cuts were unique this time around

Jul 15, 2011

This season of state budget cuts in Olympia was different than previous bad-budget years, not just in size and scope – but also because the Legislature eliminated many small programs rather than suspending them so they can be brought back online more easily in better times.

“That’s different,” said Marty Brown, director of Washington's Office of Financial Management.

The $4.6 billion in cuts that resulted in the state’s current $32 billion two-year budget contained many program eliminations that surprised even veteran budget wonks like Brown.

Of the "10 state budget cuts that might surprise you", Brown said elimination of the agricultural Domestic Marketing Program most surprised him.

The program included the Farm-to-School Program, which was dedicated to fostering relationships between schools and agricultural producers in Washington State, and the Small Farm Direct Marketing Assistance Program for a savings of $911,000.

For years, the Legislature had been pushing to get more locally grown, healthy food into schools, Brown said, “and that’s what that program was for.”

Another program cut that surprised him was ending the Pre-Apprenticeship Grants for a savings $350,000. The grants helped some students get through the pre-apprenticeship programs for improving their basic skills before applying to an apprenticeship program.

What’s lost?

“It’s a few kids who probably would have become plumbers and electricians,” he said.

Of course, without revenue there is only so much the state can do, he said.

“It all adds up,” he said. “It’s not the same as eliminating community college, say … but (those programs) had advocates. Someone thought they were a good idea. They were helping. There’s just a limit to what we can do.”

What else?

What programs or services that have not been big in the news have you seen cut, reduced or eliminated? How have these cuts affected your life?

Let us know by commenting on this page, on our Facebook page or by emailing Online Managing Editor Jake Ellison at jellison@kplu.org