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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Like the Senate budget, the House budget contains deep cuts to core public investments. Much of the focus of the conversation today has been about the differences between the two. One emphasizes access to workforce training programs. The other, helping maintain a basic standard of living for people who cannot work due to disability. And so on.

But the differences in priorities are less striking than the fact that they both demonstrate one prominent priority: budget cuts over tax increases. On that, they agree.

As the graph below shows, the budgets are essentially identical in terms of the total size of the cuts, the total amount of new resources, and the size of the ending fund balance.*

So maybe the differences between the two budgets is a distraction from the real question: is either one consistent with Washington State's values? Policymakers should offer a third option, one where we agree together to sustain smart investments in education, health, community, and security.

*These graphs show the change in the near-general fund balance sheet. They do not include federal recovery funds. The two budgets use different assumptions about federal money that will have to be ironed out; more on that tomorrow.

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