Tim Eyman's getting an early Christmas present this year. After weeks of talking new taxes, Governor Christine Gregoire will release her proposed budget adjustments to get us through the second half of the two-year cycle tomorrow. And in this time of need, it will be all cuts.
State law has painted Gregoire into a 'no new taxes' corner.
Gregoire spokesperson Glenn Kuper says the Governor doesn't have a choice (contradicting the implications of a report from seattlepi.com). According to Kuper, state law requires Gregoire's proposal, which supplements the budget passed last year, to have no new revenue increases. "What she's been saying is she's not comfortable with that legally required budget," Kuper says.Legislators now face the prospect of having to navigate the politically murky waters of raising taxes themselves. Or they could keep the cuts by decimating state supported mental health programs or financial aid.
If legislators needed any more encouragement for raising taxes to keep services up and running, the depressing results of a survey on hunger and homelessness, released today by the U.S. Conference of Mayors (of which Greg Nickels is President), should help.
For starters, the survey found demand for food and shelters is up nationwide. In Seattle, requests for food from banks or meal distribution centers is up 9 percent overall. The number of people seeking help for the first time is up 30 percent.
As to homelessness, "providers report increases in demand for shelter and services that includes more families that are homeless or experiencing domestic violence for the first time," the report states.
Also, the number of people living in sanctioned and illicit tent cities grew. And over the last year, the city gave out 200 hotel vouchers for homeless people who had to be turned away from shelters for lack of space.
Obviously the city and state provide different kinds of help, but both should be keeping people afloat when times are hard. Let's just hope the legislators in Olympia remember that when Tim Eyman wins, families who don't know where their next meal will come from, or where they will lay their heads tonight, lose.