budget surprises

Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A dirty dome is blamed for leaks at the Capitol in Olympia.

State Department of Enterprise Services spokesman Jim Erskine says with cleaning postponed by budget cuts, it's possible mold and grime are widening cracks in the mortar and allowing water into the building.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington voters last year rejected a state income tax on high-wage earners. Now a left-of-center think tank is proposing a tax on investors to help bail out the state budget.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — State lawmakers have started assessing potential ideas on how to fix the state's budget situation.

A Senate committee heard proposals Monday that would further reduce teacher salaries, release prisoners early and eliminate virtually all substance abuse services.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state agencies are putting entire programs on the chopping block – including $65 million from UW and WSU – to satisfy a request by the governor for more budget savings.

On Thursday, Governor Chris Gregoire notified state lawmakers that she will call them back to Olympia on November 28th for a special budget cutting session to make the cuts.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire is calling lawmakers back for what she expects will be a "brutal" special session focused on cutting the budget.

Gregoire said Thursday that she wants the Legislature back in Olympia to start work beginning Nov. 28.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The words “special session” and even “taxes” are on the lips of some Washington state lawmakers after the latest revenue forecast.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington's latest revenue forecast predicts a $1.4 billion drop in tax collections through June of 2013.

Washington State University President Elson Floyd says the university will get out of the current fiscal crisis, but it is not there yet.

If you've got books overdue at the Seattle public library don't worry. No fines will be charged this week while all the public libraries in the city are closed due to budget cuts.

Seattle libraries will reopen after Labor Day on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Flickr

University of Washington, the City of Seattle and King County all face possible credit rating downgrades because of the federal government stalemate over raising the national debt ceiling.

Allie Gerlach / Flickr

The City council has confirmed a commitment to spend $3 million dollars from the sale of a property along Aurora Avenue north, known as the “Rubble Yard.”

The one-time boost increases the city’s street repair budget by about 33% for the year. Declining tax revenues have taken a bite out of money available for backlogged road repair projects.

Washington's litter hotline is no more. The toll free number to report people throwing trash out of their cars has fallen victim to state budget cuts.

With the loss of revenue, the impact of inflation and rising population, Washington’s government is providing one-fifth (18 percent) fewer services.

That’s instruction in K-12, colleges and universities, road maintenance, health and welfare agents, building inspectors – you name it.

By the time this economic decline in government services gets ironed out, Washington could shed up to 20,000 government jobs statewide, says Seattle economist Dick Conway, who is also co-publisher of the Puget Sound Economic Forecaster.

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.

Washington budget writers just can’t catch a break. Earlier this week, state income had fallen another $22 million short of forecasts. That’s on top of a forecasted revenue slump that will leave the state with only $163.3 million in reserve by June 2013.

All of which comes on the heels of the Legislature’s $32 billion two-year budget that cut $4.6 billion.

We’ve heard about the big cuts to education and a few other programs – such as closing the state tourism office, the quit cigarette hotline, living will registry and ending film industry incentives. Now, here’s 10 small programs cuts that will affect the way at least some Washington citizens live their lives: