Budget crisis

Last week, several media outlets and advocacy groups began circulating the same sad story: Because of sequestration, 60 low-income families in Dane County, Wis., were soon to be homeless.

But the truth is more complicated.

The story began with a blog post written in February by Dane County Housing Authority Executive Director Rob Dicke.

Inconveniencing the public is part of the plan.

It may never have been intended to play out in quite this way, but the automatic spending cuts set to take effect for most federal programs Friday leave little room for preserving the most visible and popular programs.

"The law basically says the cuts have to be across-the-board by 'project, program and activity,' " says Stan Collender, a federal budget expert with the communications firm Qorvis. "That was specifically written to take away flexibility from the administration."

TACOMA, Wash. — The Tacoma city manager says the city will have to cut 217 employee positions and impose a $20 car license tax to help close a $63 million gap in next year's budget.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax delivered the grim news Tuesday to the city council with his $396 million spending plan.

The News Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/QXoGmm) the budget will go through public hearings before the council adopts a final plan in December.

The Seattle City Council is facing a $1.1 billion shortfall in its pension fund, according to a report to the Government Performance and Finance Committee (first noted by the politics and government blog Publicola).

The organization that oversees Washington state's nearly 29,000 lawyers is scrambling to deal with a big budget gap, after the attorneys voted to reduce their own dues.

The Washington State Bar Association says it will likely have to cut a variety of programs, including those that support legal aid to the poor.

RICHLAND, Wash. — The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory plans to lay off 45 employees this week.

The cutbacks are in order to adjust to the latest federal budget approved in December.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire would like to see a tax on roll-your-own cigarettes included in any final budget deal.

Gregoire’s comments Monday come at the start of week two of the legislature’s special session. Lawmakers are trying to hammer out a deal to close a roughly $500 million shortfall.

The tax on self-rolled smokes would only raise $12 million toward rebalancing the budget. But Gregoire still thinks it’s worthwhile.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Majority Democrats in the Washington state House have unveiled a plan to rebalance the state’s budget. The spending blueprint released Tuesday does not call for a general tax increase. But it would delay a massive payment to public schools. It also relies on savings from reduced demand for state services.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Two credit rating agencies have delivered a warning to the State of Washington to get its financial house in order. The ratings agencies lowered the outlook for Washington state debt, citing the magnitude of the budget shortfall.

State Parks leaders have decided to go ahead with planned layoffs, even after the Legislature asked them not to. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court is considering arguments over the debt troubles surrounding Wenatchee's events arena.

Justices heard debate Tuesday about whether the area's public facilities district should be able to refinance nearly $42 million.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington state lawmakers begin their 2012 session with no agreement in sight for how to solve major budget shortfall.

In the House of Representatives Monday, leaders from both parties laid out different visions for how they would balance the budget.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A one billion dollar budget shortfall, taxes and gay marriage are all on the agenda as the Washington legislature convenes Monday. But the timeframe is short – just 60 days – and already the Governor’s push for gay marriage is setting off partisan tension.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire wants the state to handle local business tax collections, saying a streamlined system would save small businesses time and money.

Gregoire's proposal on Thursday would take the duties away from local jurisdictions, similar to how the state currently collects and distributes sales tax money.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire has approved a plan to ease the state's $1.4 billion shortfall.

Gregoire signed a new budget Tuesday that uses a variety of cuts, transfers and delayed payments to save $480 million.

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