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Friday, January 23, 2009

Most of the focus around the budget deficit has been on the next biennium (the two-year budget cycle that will begin on July 1). It’s easy to overlook the fact that we have a deficit right now, estimated to be about half a billion dollars.

It's time to stop overlooking the current deficit. Despite the fact that the legislature has not yet passed a supplemental budget to deal with the current deficit, the Governor has already been ordering cuts in spending. And legislative leaders are weighing in. Yesterday, Senate Democrats proposed $105 million in cuts for the current biennium and House Democrats have signaled that they are working on $300 million in cuts.

When the Governor released her budget proposal in December, the documents outlining the supplemental budget were light on details, with most cuts being grouped into very large categories. For example, in the budget for the Department of Social and Health Services, there was a $55 million cut labeled only "Governor-Directed November Reduction."

Additional information is becoming available. Not surprisingly, the details are important. Hiding in the "November Reductions" are numerous cuts like the elimination of funding for Adult Day Health and an increase in child care co-pays for lower income working parents.

A good place to find the details on the Governor's supplemental proposal is on my new favorite website: Washington Fiscal Information. It's not for the faint of heart (and doesn't seem to work well in Firefox), but you can create spreadsheets with detailed budget comparisons by accounts, sources, and agencies. We'll keep putting up more information on the supplemental budget as it develops.

Well, that's the end of our first "special series." Let us know what you think and what you'd like to see next.


As an aside, Adam Wilson's blog has a video that you won't see in other coverage of the Senate Democrats' press conference.

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