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Budget Report, Part 2: Suspend, Reduce, Eliminate

By Josh Feit December 10, 2009

The take on Gov. Chris Gregoire's all-cuts budget is that it's a threat.

"Gregoire lifts budget ax," The Seattle Times' print headline reads this morning. "Don't make me do this."

Gregoire's budget, the theory goes, is a piece of dramatic propaganda in a larger campaign to raise taxes. Her $31 billion budget threatens to decimate the Basic Health Plan, children's health care, financial assistance to the unemployable, financial aid for college students, and drug benefits for seniors, among other programs.

Gregoire said yesterday that she would offer an alternative budget in January that would restore those programs—ahem—with $700 million in new taxes.

I agree that yesterday's "budget proposal" was actually an editorial for new taxes.

But there's another story here: $700 million (or even $1 billion or more if social services advocates get their way) only buys back so much.

Even if the governor's "budget" is really just a pitch to raise taxes for her real budget proposal, that real budget proposal (coming in January), with $1 billion in cuts—will still destroy vital services. She's not merely "raising the budget ax" as the Seattle Times blares—she's lowering it.

Based on what the governor indicated she would seek to restore yesterday (including the Basic Health Plan, children's health care, and college financial aid) there's still a long list of things she's planning to cut.

Here's what she says is gone even with the estimated $700 million in new taxes:

Education

•Eliminate state funding for the Career and Wage Ladder, a pilot program that provides wage
incentives for child care providers to advance their professional development.  ($1.5 million)

•Eliminate state funding for the Child Care Resource and Referral Network, which will continue to
receive federal funding to operate local referral hot lines and provide training.  ($425,000)

•Eliminate the kindergarten through 4th grade staffing enhancement, a statewide program that
reduces class size in the early grades.  ($110.6 million)

•Suspend levy equalization assistance, a program that provides extra support to districts with a lower
than average property tax base.  ($142.9 million)

•Suspend the student achievement program, which provides smaller class sizes for students and
professional development for teachers.  ($78.5 million)

•Suspend the state program for gifted education, which affects nearly 23,000 students.  ($7.4 million)

Public Safety

•Eliminate 25 staff positions in the Washington State Patrol, including criminal records analysts, fire
protection preparedness specialists and crime lab scientists. No trooper jobs will be affected.
($3.8 million)

•Reduce the number of juveniles detained in state institutions. The Juvenile Rehabilitation
Administration in the Department of Social and Health Services will close cottages in juvenile
institutions at Naselle Youth Camp, Maple Lane School and Green Hill School by moving more
youth into community-based secure facilities and closer to their families, which will assist in
successful re-entry upon completion of their sentences.  ($2.4 million)

•Eliminate ‘tolling’ for those in prehearing confinement on a violation and for those who have
been sanctioned to time in jail for a violation. This means that a violator’s community supervision
sentence will run continuously regardless of whether the violator is incarcerated at any time during
the sentence or in prehearing confinement.  ($1.2 million)

•Reduce excess capacity in the state prison system. The Department of Corrections will use its most
efficient prison beds, which will allow the closure of units and entire facilities. No offenders will be
set free prior to the earned release date while reductions are made.  ($8.7 million)

•Reduce offender re-entry funding, with the exception of funding for evidence-based and promising
programs.  ($3.5 million)

•Reduce funding to juvenile courts by 10 percent in non-evidence based, non-sex offender
disposition alternative programs.  ($2.5 million)

•Reduce the number of Basic Law Enforcement Academy classes because law enforcement agencies
are not hiring due to the recession. The Criminal Justice Training Commission is funded for 13
classes in Fiscal Year 2010 and 16 classes in Fiscal Year 2011.  ($1.6 million)

•Reduce the prison population for non-violent offenders who are custodial parents of minor
children, which will allow the Department of Corrections to close a prison unit at a women’s facility.
($225,000)

•Merge the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board with the Department of Corrections, without
changing the functions of the board.   ($630,000)

Human Services

•Eliminate housekeeping and off-site laundry services to 42,000 elderly clients or people with
developmental disabilities, which will result in an average of six fewer hours of services per month.
($18.3 million GF-S, $23.9 million)

•Eliminate outpatient services for chemical dependency and detoxification treatment for more than
3,600 low-income adults.  ($8.7 million)

•Eliminate funding to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for chemical dependency prevention
grants.  ($970,000)

•Limit new subsidies for child care from 3,800 cases per month to 1,400 cases per month, prioritizing
services to families on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program and those with the
lowest income.   ($88.5 million)

•Reduce home care agency funding by ending parity with individual providers for wages and benefits,
as well as reducing health benefit contributions.  ($14.1 million; $18.2 million)

•Reduce non-Medicaid funding for community mental health services, which include counseling, case
management, acute care, the program for adaptive living skills and jail services.  ($15 million)

•Reduce in-home Medicaid personal care services by changing eligibility levels to match the standard
for admission to a nursing home.  ($5.4 million GF-S, $9.3 million)

•Reduce the Senior Citizens Services Act state-funded optional services while preserving core
activities provided by 13 local Area Agencies on Aging related to information and referrals to those
considering elder care.  ($7 million)

•Reduce family preservation services, which help keep children at risk of abuse safely in their own
homes, by 50 percent, or funding for 2,400 families.  ($5.9 million)

•Reduce chemical dependency and detoxification treatment for 3,800 low-income adults.
($5.4 million)

•Reduce reimbursements paid to foster care parents by an average of 8 percent.  ($4.1 million)

•Reduce funding for General Assistance Unemployable for chemical dependency treatment for 1,200
low-income adults.  ($2.7 million)

•Reduce Medicaid rates paid to Regional Support Networks, which deliver community mental health
services under the state and federal Medicaid program, by 1 percent.  ($1.2 million;
$1.5 million)

•Suspend state subsidy of child support funds to approximately 12,000 families on public assistance.
($6.1 million; $6.1 million)

•Suspend the Volunteer Chore program, which coordinates 288,000 hours of volunteer services to
help elderly people who remain in their homes.  ($1.9 million)

•Revise the Individual and Family Support program so families earning more than $30,000 per year
will no longer be eligible for benefits, and reduce the annual benefit from $3,000 to $2,250.
($5.2 million)

•Delay new mandatory training for long-term care workers from January 2011 to January 2012.
($2.8 million; $3.7 million)

•Transfer services of the Council on Children and Families to be more efficient and to align similar
functions. The nurse home visitation program is transferred to the Department of Early Learning;
child abuse and neglect prevention programs are transferred to the Department of Social and Health
Services’ Children’s Administration. The council is disbanded and staffing is reduced.
($235,000)

Health Care

•Eliminate early intervention and direct client services for 2,500 HIV and HIV-vulnerable clients.
($10.5 million)

•Suspend the Medicare Part-D co-payment reimbursement program, which provides prescription
drug assistance for more than 85,000 Medicaid-eligible elderly clients.  ($7.8 million)

•Physical, occupational and speech therapies, which serve more than 20,000 clients.
($4.5 million)

Natural Resources

•Eliminate funding for watershed planning and assistance after Fiscal Year 2011. Interim funding is
provided for incentive grants to integrate local watershed planning with watershed-based salmon
recovery activities.  ($5.5 million)

•Eliminate funding to manage timber sales, which have decreased because of lower timber prices.
Savings from lower management costs on agricultural college trust lands are recovered on a one-
time basis.  ($700,000; $700,000)

•Reduce funding to manage toxic cleanups, which will slow work on 13 sites statewide.  ($3.5 million)

•Reduce funding for litter collection, with remaining funding to be focused on litter pickup along
interstate highways and with maximum use of crews from the state Department of Corrections.
($2 million)

•Reduce funding for water resource activities, including data management, setting in-stream flows,
water rights adjudication and water use efficiency.  ($1 million)

•Reduce funding by 50 percent for agricultural fairs, which will result in smaller-scale and fewer fairs
in spring and summer 2011.  ($1.2 million)

•Reduce funding to local conservation districts, which will lead to delays of projects under way and
eliminate funding for new projects.  ($500,000)

•Use forest fire protection assessments paid by landowners in forest-fire prone areas to cover costs
for fire prevention and preparedness.  ($5 million)

•Shift administration costs at the Department of Agriculture to fee-driven accounts, proportionate to
program operations.  ($1.2 million)

•Shift State Parks expenditures from the General Fund to the Parks Renewal and Stewardship
Account.   ($1.2 million)

•Transfer fund balance in the State and Local Toxics Accounts to the General Fund.  ($81.8 million)

•Transfer fund balance in the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account to the General Fund.
($2.5 million)

•Transfer fund balance in the Waste Reduction, Recycling and Litter Control Account to the General
Fund.  ($2 million)

•Operate fish hatcheries through partnerships with tribes or private organizations.  ($288,000)

Slimming Down Government Operations

•Eliminate supervisory, administrative and maintenance positions at the Military Department.
($1.7 million)

•Eliminate groups of painters, carpenters and electricians, and transfer their work to other multi-
skilled groups.  ($1.1 million)

•Reduce the number of gardeners, custodians, asset managers, maintenance workers and others
employed with the Department of General Administration to right size units for decreased
workload, and reduce work activities that will not affect health and safety, nor degrade state assets.
($4.1 million)

•Eliminate funding for the Dispute Resolution Centers in Fiscal Year 2011, which will mean that
65,000 people will need to settle their differences through the court system.  ($500,000)

•Eliminate funding for the Family Prosperity Account in Fiscal Year 2011, which means that asset
building coalitions and nonprofit organizations will be unable to provide the same level of technical
assistance to families for financial literacy, savings programs, earned income tax credit and other
programs.   ($453,000)

•Eliminate the community and financial services unit in the Department of Commerce, which
will limit the department’s ability to provide technical assistance and information to businesses.
($356,000)

•Eliminate funding for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program in Fiscal Year 2011. As a result, 13,000
seniors will no longer be recruited and supported while volunteering in community and social
services-related programs.  ($306,000)

•Reduce benefit levels and tighten eligibility standards for the Crime Victims Benefits program in
the Department of Labor and Industries, one of the best funded of its kind in the nation. This will
affect services to 4,048 people while making Washington’s program comparable to those offered by
other states.  ($2.9 million)

•Reduce the personnel service fee charged by the Department of Personnel, which will require the
department to cut its training division in half (15 full-time equivalent employees) and eliminate the
executive careers program.  ($1.8 million)

•Reduce 10 percent of the funding for State Library services, which will limit access by state
institutions and to historical and digital collections, depository collections, and the Washington
Talking Book and Braille Library.  ($2 million)

•Reduce executive and administrative services, Charitable Solicitation and Trust Program,
Corporations and Partnership Services, Television Washington, the Legacy Project and non-
mandatory election services in the Office of the Secretary of State.  ($1.6 million)

•Reduce funding to address substance abuse and violence, which will affect 300 community-based
programs administered through the Department of Commerce’s Community Mobilization Program.
($1.3 million)

•Reduce the Audit of State Government program in the State Auditor’s Office by 10 percent.
($1.2 million)

•Reduce grant funding for the Washington Information Network 211, a private, nonprofit
organization that provides social service referrals.  ($500,000)

•Reduce the Visitor Services program, which will lead to lower levels of service for events on the
Capital Campus. Tours for schoolchildren will be cut by one-third during legislative sessions and
self-guided tours will be available to the public.  ($422,000)

•Reduce the review of school district data by the State Auditor’s Office by 25 percent. The
Superintendent of Public Instruction, which collects school district data submitted in support of
requests for state payment, also reviews the data.  ($363,000)

•Consolidate the number of economic region services offices from seven to four in the Department
of Commerce.  ($711,000)

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