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Monday, February 23, 2009

News last week of the dramatic increase in our state budget deficit - from roughly six to eight billion dollars - has prompted many to wonder how exactly we are going to get out of this mess. In a timely editorial, the Tacoma News Tribune has compiled the views of nine diverse movers and shakers on what should be done to fix the budget.
From the TNT: Earlier this month, we invited 24 current and former state officials, policy analysts and interest group representatives to suggest what lawmakers would do if they’re really serious about leveraging the economic crisis to make hard choices.
Remy Trupin, Executive Director of the Budget & Policy Center, is one of the nine. His written comments call for a balanced approach:
Economists recognize the vital role that spending must play in reviving our state’s staggered economy. If Olympia ignores this reality, it would do more than violate our shared values. It would have an anti-stimulative effect that will deepen and prolong the economic crisis we face.
A reasonable approach would combine surgical cuts with carefully calibrated revenue increases, Remy says. The goal is to protect critical public services without exacerbating the unfairness of our current state tax structure. For example, a temporary increase in the state sales tax or in sin taxes could be combined with a sales tax rebate to lower income working families. The Legislature passed the Working Families Rebate in 2008. If fully funded, it could fully offset the increase in taxes for lower income families

Remy is not alone in his thinking. A group of 30 state economists and public policy experts have joined the Budget & Policy Center in signing a letter calling for consideration of revenue increases by the Governor and state Legislature to address the growing budget crisis.

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