Monday Jolt: Surprise Budget Day Winner. Obvious Loser

By Afternoon Jolt November 21, 2011


Today's Winner: Education.

It's hard to call education a winner in Washington State these days given that K-12 education has taken a $2.5 billion cut over the last three years (if you include both the literal cuts and the legislature's failure to fund I-728 and I-732, the voter-approved education funding initiatives) while higher ed funding took a $639 million (23 percent) hit.[pullquote]It's hard to call education a winner in Washington State right now, but Gov. Chris Gregoire drew a line in the sand on education today.[/pullquote]

But lo and behold, Gov. Chris Gregoire drew a line in the sand on education today, surprising many by proposing a sales tax increase to put $440 million out of a half billion package toward: preventing another $100 million cut to K-12; saving the K-12 levy equalization fund (which redistributes tax dollars from rich districts to poor ones) from a $152 million cut; and preventing another 17 percent to higher ed funding.

Jolt cannot remember the last time education advocates have had anything good to say after one of these Gregoire announcements. Today, though, Washington Education Association leader Mary Lindquist said:

We’re encouraged by Gov. Gregoire’s call for new revenue to avoid even deeper cuts to public education. Gov. Gregoire recognizes that additional budget cuts on top of the $2.5 billion we’ve already cut from K-12 schools will cause long-term harm to our students and our state.

Flagging Gregoire's sales tax idea as a minus, though, Lindquist did immediately follow with a "however," however:

Washington teachers and education support professionals believe we should be looking at a full range of revenue options that voters will support. Instead of expecting children, teachers and middle-class families to sacrifice even more, profitable corporations and the very rich must be asked to pay their fair share in these tough economic times. All revenue options must be on the table.

Today's Losers: US Sens. Patty Murray & Maria Cantwell.

There are certainly lots of interesting and clever theories out there about how the failed deficit reduction deal in DC is a win (for example, the Bush tax cuts will expire and a balanced set of spending cuts, known as sequestration, will now go through by default).

But to the average viewer, Congress just didn't get the job done. And the senior senator from Washington State co-chaired the committee. Fail.

And as long as we're raining on our senior senator, how about the bum luck of our junior senator?

Sen. Maria Cantwell has been standing up to the milquetoast Obama administration re: Wall Street for years now, but who gets the NYT Magazine feature fanzine piece on Sunday? Senate (oh, excuse me) Presidential (?) candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Change the wording to "as a member of the  Finance Committee," and  this exact sentence could've been written about Cantwell (and I think we probably wrote it at some point). But no. All hail the senate hopeful from Massachusetts:

What her admirers on the left see is a woman who rises above everything wormy in Washington, including indiscriminate partisan loyalty. As chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel monitoring TARP, Warren barbecued not just Bush’s Treasury chief, Hank Paulson, but also Obama’s appointee, Tim Geithner. In public hearings in 2010, she pressed Geithner on the banking system’s exposure to bad commercial loans and failures with the home-mortgage-foreclosure program.

Cantwell and Warren are holding a joint fundraiser on Dec. 9. Jolt will be interested to see how the donations break down.

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