This Washington

Hey, I Balanced the Budget!

By Erica C. Barnett November 30, 2011

And all it took was an income tax on high wage earners*!



Think that's unrealistic? Try out the other options---including a capital gains tax, cuts to K-12 and higher education, cuts to food assistance, and cuts to health care and domestic violence programs---on the League of Education Voters' budget-balancing widget, which simulates the cuts and revenue enhancements the legislature is considering during the special session.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed an all-cuts budget that would eliminate $2 billion in programs, combined with a half-cent sales tax increase that would allow the state to "buy back" half a billion dollars worth of programs. The widget is a useful illustration of the stark choices legislators are facing---although it fails, as my glib income tax example illustrates, to account for the byzantine partisan politics in Olympia, where any tax increase requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature.

* Fine print: The income tax would be levied on individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $400,000
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