Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, March 03, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Do you think the governor knows someone in business? The governor can't walk a few blocks from the Capitol to the Association of Washington Business?
- State Senator Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville)

Senator Schoesler has been on roll lately with good quotes. Then again, all the Democratic hijinks in Olympia this session have provided him with a target-rich environment.

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:

Schoesler not pleased with Senate budget; 9th District senator says more money going out than coming in

Washington 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler sees some serious problems with the way money is being spent by state lawmakers.

The Ritzville Republican was a dissenting vote against a recent Senate proposal to increase the 2008 supplemental operating budget.

Schoesler said the budget does not reflect the deficit or aim to increase reserves, but instead funds a slew of new programs and policies - a tactic for politicians as they gear up for the election season.

"Election-year spending is interfering with good fiscal responsibility," he said. "This isn't a forward-thinking budget. This budget is only looking forward to the November election."

The plan, passed by the Senate with a 31-17 vote, increases the 2007-2009 operating budget to $33.7 billion despite projected state revenues of only $32 billion. The Senate Ways and Means Committee recently reported that the budget is expected to face a $2.4 billion deficit next year, which could increase to $5.1 billion by 2011.

Schoesler said supplementary budgets are "generally nonconfrontational," as they are meant to make small funding corrections to the biennial budget. He added that he's long been concerned that state spending isn't sustainable and this session the issue is of "grave concern" as the budget proposes to spend $1.7 billion more than the state plans to rake in.

It also proposes to kick-start good-intentioned programs Schoesler said are likely to fizzle.

"It's really a cruel joke on the people, because they're not going to be able to sustain those programs," he said.

"When you find yourself in a hole, normally you quit digging, but they keep digging," Schoesler added. "When your spending is already exceeding your revenue, you see yourself in a really bad spot. That's what the governor and the other party has done."

Schoesler said some unnecessary funding includes the $1.5 donation to the WNBA Seattle Storm and $5,000 for a National Guard bass fishing tournament. He also points to a $1.3 million allocation for a "road show on health care" to promote organized government-run health care, and $175,000 for a liaison between the governor's office and state businesses.

"Do you think the governor knows someone in business? The governor can't walk a few blocks from the Capitol to the Association of Washington Business? She's going to hire a liaison? That should offend people's sensibilities," he said. "They're adding page after page of new spending ... If the economy actually gets worse, we're going to be in for a very difficult session."

Schoesler also voted against the Senate's version of the Washington 2008 transportation supplemental budget because he said it misappropriates funds that were earmarked for repairs on the Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad.

The transportation budget threatens to take away $1.6 million that remained after the purchase of the CW branch of the 372-mile short-line railroad. The Senate voted 39-10 to drop the money in the multimodal account, which funds transportation-related projects statewide. He pointed to a proposal by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, for money to go to a Amtrak station in her district.

"You don't keep the confidence of legislators when you rob dedicated funds and use them somewhere else," he said, adding that the railroad is necessary to alleviate the wear and tear on state highways and to avoid high diesel prices while transporting lumber and goods.

"We need to upgrade the track so the trains can run at commercial speeds," Schoesler said. "That was part of the deal ... We've got a long-term tool for economic development in our counties and to steal from it is unacceptable."

The House of Representatives also recently passed a draft of its operating and transportation budgets. Senate and House budget writers are expected to meet during the next several weeks to compromise on the state's spending. The 2008 legislative session is slated to wrap up March 13.

No comments: