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December 27, 2012

Senator Doug Ericksen: The 12 Biggest Myths of Olympia

Filed under: State Issue — Tags: , , , , — wally @ 6:22 am

Senator Ericksen

E-mail: doug@senatorericksen.com ? Phone: (360)786-7682 ? Web: www.SenatorEricksen.com

414 Legislative Building ? PO Box 40442 ? Olympia, WA 98504-0412

Committees: Environment, Ranking Republican; Transportation;

Economic Development, Trade & Innovation

Senate Republican Whip

December 28, 2012

The 12 Biggest Myths of Olympia

Hello Whatcom County,

This probably won’t come as a shock to you, but Olympia occasionally struggles with reality. Sometimes it’s by accident – a false assertion gets repeated so many times that it becomes fact. In other instances, people may purposely perpetuate an idea to distort the debate on an issue.

In either case, these misconceptions are dangerous because they’re often used as the basis for budgets and policy decisions. That’s why I’m taking this opportunity to debunk some of Olympia’s biggest myths.

I welcome your feedback on this list – send me a vote for what you think is the biggest myth and I’ll share the results in a few weeks. Additionally, feel free to pass along any other myths you’ve heard. My plan is to make this an ongoing feature on www.senatorericksen.com so check in regularly to see new falsehoods exposed.

1.  Washington state has a budget deficit

In the next two-year budget cycle, Washington will receive more tax dollars than at any time in our state’s history. State tax receipts are expected to grow at almost 7 percent and total tax dollars to the state are anticipated to be $32.8 billion. There’s enough money coming into the state to fully fund all of our priorities – including education.

2.  Education funding has been slashed

Despite what’s often reported in the media and by interest groups, Washington state is spending more on education than ever before. To be exact, K-12 education spending has continually grown and now receives 93 percent more funding than it did 20 years ago.

3.  This proposal is not a tax, it’s a fee

Because of the two-thirds threshold for tax increases Washington voters have approved five times (most recently with Initiative 1185 in November), it’s difficult to raise taxes in Olympia. Fee increases, on the other hand, can be enacted by a simple majority. The result of this is that everyone in Olympia tries to dress up revenue increase proposals as fees rather than taxes. If it walks like a tax and talks like a tax, it is a tax – and it should be subject to the two-thirds threshold.

4.  Washington has one of the best business climates in the nation

Many publications put out lists of the best states for business and Washington often ranks towards the top. It’s important to note these lists give heavy weight to our lack of an income tax; they don’t take into account factors like our business and occupation (B&O) tax structure, which is the worst in the nation. They also don’t look at our sky-high workers’ compensation rates and highest-in-the-nation minimum wage rates. What they’re really measuring is which states are good for wealthy business people to live in, not where to operate a business.

5.  Washington’s constitution requires a balanced budget

People in Olympia and around the state often say that Washington’s constitution requires a balanced budget. The truth is that Washington’s constitution only requires the governor to propose a balanced budget. The Legislature isn’t bound to any such requirement for the budget that ultimately passes into law. That’s something I’d like to see changed, and in the coming session I’ll propose a constitutional amendment requiring the state’s budget to balance.

6. State government receives “revenue”

You’ll often hear about how much “revenue” state government is taking in. There’s even a state agency known as the “Economic Revenue Forecast Council.” But the state doesn’t receive revenue; it only takes tax dollars. The distinction is subtle but important. Businesses take in revenue when they sell a product or a service. That’s fundamentally different from government, which can only generate money by taxing people.

7.  Washington’s lottery proceeds fund K-12 education

When a lottery was proposed in Washington in the late 70’s, many people thought that education would be a good recipient of the funds. But when our lottery was established in 1982, proceeds were instead directed to the state’s general fund. They’ve been shifted several times since and now primarily fund college scholarships and debt on Seattle sports stadiums.

8.  An income tax is more stable than a sales tax

Many people around Olympia will tell you that our tax system, which relies heavily on sales tax receipts, is inherently unstable and that an income tax would provide more predictable tax dollars. That’s patently untrue – study after study has shown that income tax is more volatile than sales tax. For proof, we need look no further than Oregon and California, both of which rely primarily on income tax and endure more pronounced peaks and valleys of tax dollars.

9.  Over 95 percent of transportation projects are delivered on-time and within-budget

Every year, the Department of Transportation revises its projections for projects. They then base performance on these “most-recent expectations,” including what the Department considers on-time and within-budget. Essentially, they move the goal posts for projects every year. Really, what’s amazing is that any projects come in late or over budget using this system.

10. Washington ranks behind Mississippi in education funding

This statistic is often used in Olympia to point out how dire our education-funding situation is. Fortunately for our state and our schools, it’s a blatant falsehood. State spending towards education in Washington amounts to around $6.9 billion per year, compared to $2.1 billion in Mississippi. On a per-pupil basis, Washington spends $9,452 annually for every student to Mississippi’s $8,119.

11.  Governor Gregoire reduced tribal gambling

Gov. Gregoire claimed that she decreased tribal gambling because an agreement she reached with the tribes was less generous than what former Gov. Locke had negotiated. The crucial difference is that Locke’s plan included revenue sharing for the state, so the public would see some return on tribal gambling (as is the case in at least 21 other states). The proof is in the pudding, however, and tribal gambling receipts have soared 139 percent during Gregoire’s time in office.

12.  We’ll reform government after this fiscal crisis, but first we have to raise taxes

Regardless of the year and the fiscal situation we find ourselves in, according to those who protect the status quo in Olympia, this isn’t the time to reform government. They’ll say that as soon as we get through this crisis, then we’ll take a hard look at spending. The truth is, the best time to reform government is yesterday – or better yet, last year. If anything, tax shortfalls are a reason to justify reforms, not to shy away from them.

Doug signature

Doug Ericksen

Washington State Senator, 42nd District

Olympia office: (360) 786-7682

E-mail: doug@senatorericksen.com

Web site:www.SenatorEricksen.com

October 5, 2012

Mitt Romney rejects the “Balanced Approach”

Remember that section of the presidential debate where President Obama talked about a balanced approach to taxes and spending? And remember how he tried to chastise Mitt Romney for refusing President Obama’s balanced approach?

BelieveinAmericaIn Mitt Romney’s book he explains why he soundly rejected President Obama’s so called balanced approach.

“Our untenable spending habits were at the root of this past summer’s crisis over the debt ceiling. President Obama’s insistence on a “balanced approach”—by which he meant a combination of spending cuts and tax increases—would have put a seal of congressional approval on a baseline level of spending significantly higher than when he took office. That is precisely why the President’s approach had to be soundly rejected. He wanted to move the country in the wrong direction of more taxes and more spending at a time when both are smothering the economy.”
Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth, Kindle Edition.”

Overspending is a national problem and I’m so looking forward to having Mitt Romney in the White House so we can put his mind and talents to work solving, rather than perpetuating this problem.

August 30, 2012

2010 Election: History making or not?

Nope, not a misprint, rather a reprint.  I was listening to the Morning Show on KGMI with Patti Brooks this morning and heard one of the Whatcom Democrats officers call in and aside from a little partisan bashing I was hearing him bring up the same tired old points about how we aren’t taxing enough or taxing the right people and how the Iraq war spending is to blame, yada yada yada.  It made me think of this post I wrote almost two years ago about the then upcoming 2010 election.  Upon rereading it, I have found that nothing has changed in the last two years and my advice for the 2010 election will suffice for the 2012 election.

2010 Election: History making or not?

We are fast approaching our next election and like so many other elections before, I am hearing how this one is special, critically important and history making. Ok, I can buy into this election being special and even critically important, but as for history making??   I think history making will be determined by which direction we vote, but we need history making.

Our nation is so deep in financial trouble that we may not be able to recover.  As Americans we are living and breathing this fact day in and day out.   Some say that we are in our financial mess because big corporations and the “rich” aren’t paying their share.  Some say that Reagan and Bush tax cuts created revenue shortfalls.  And then there are those myriad of other excuses about how our tax system is regressive, archaic and or ineffective.  Well guess what?  Lack of revenue, tax or otherwise, did not create our mess.

We spent our way into this mess.  Since roughly 1960 everyone we elected to office seems to have made it their personal goal to out spend everyone before them and not just out spend them a little, but out spend them in a big way.  Check the chart.  Revenues are not the problem and they haven’t been.  Spending is the problem.  And contrary to what we hear from some, defense spending is not what is breaking our nation.  In fact, even the ramped up war spending since 9/11 pales in comparison to the increases in spending as a whole.  I’m at the point now where I just laugh when I read debate points about how best to tax our nation.  Get this, it don’t make no difference to me if a tax is progressive, regressive, digressive, whether the rich, the poor, the income or the sales are taxed.  We don’t have a tax problem!  We have a spend twice as much as we bring in problem!

What will make this election historical is if the people we elect quit spending so damn much and start changing the direction that we have been going for the whole of my lifetime.

Here’s part of my voting process:

  • cut or eliminate a program – Vote YES
  • new or restructured program – Vote NO
  • Candidate with a history of spending – Vote NO
  • If the candidate won’t commit to cut spending – Vote NO

I hope everyone will do their part in making this an historical election.

Data for chart is from http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/ and http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/

June 1, 2012

Hey Look! That One is Way Ahead!

debt2I’ve seen a “Who Increased The Debt?” chart here and there around the net and on more than one Facebook post, so odds are you’ve come across it or one of it’s variations.  I also think that I hear Joe Teehan allude to these same figures somewhat regularly on the KGMI Morning Show.

Through one of the Facebook links I located this copy of the chart on the right at Politcususa which is a self described liberal politics blog.  With the title Politicausa centered between images of  self-proclaimed  socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and by most accounts socialist President Obama, I had no doubt that the “facts” on the site were skewed to the left.

I wasn’t really sure how far left and exactly what actual information they were skewing so I had a look see.  It turns out that Snopes already had a go at the chart six months ago and they had deemed the Who Increased the Debt chart a mixture of truth and fiction.  What they actually determined was that the chart was probably based on accurate information (as of April 2011) just not well represented or of any use.

“So, as far as raw numbers go, the chart is reasonably accurate…

The chart isn’t a true comparison of equals…

the increase reported for Barack Obama will be considerably higher by the time he leaves office.”

Snopes bottomline really says all that anyone needs to know about the Who Increased the Debt chart,

All in all, this is a case of relatively accurate information which is of marginal value due to the lack of proper comparative context

Alternative debt analysis1Being of marginal value hasn’t stopped Barack Obama supporters from spreading it around the net though.  Apparently it is of some value to them if they get enough people like Joe Teehan to pass along the misinformation as truth.  And we all know that lies become truth if you hear them enough. Way to go Joe!

So as not to make this blog post just a negative commentary or a repost of a Snopes post, I thought I would add a couple of charts of my own that actually contain proper comparative context.  I used the same data, but I didn’t compare apples to oranges nor mush and manipulate the numbers into a chart where I tell you who is at fault in our national debt problem.  Instead,  I just charted the hard numbers, dollars vs. time.


Alternative debt analysis 2Anyone with out a preconceived agenda will probably agree with my 9-year old, who when seeing the charts proclaimed, “Hey look! That one is way ahead!” as he pointed to the Barack Obama spending line.  How do you disagree with that?   If spending taxpayer money were a race, President Obama is clearly in the lead.

My charts don’t bode well for a sitting President seeking a second term in office.  It would be one thing to spend this much money if our economy were booming, but it isn’t.   It would be another thing if this outrageous level of spending were actually kicking our economy into overdrive, but it isn’t.  Frankly I can’t see anything positive coming from this level of spending nor the Obama Administration in general.

And President Obama is asking us to offer him 4 more years of spending?  I don’t think we can take it.


And what about all the probamas who blame President Bush for much of President Obama’s early term spending?   I say sure, there is always some carryover spending from one administration to another, but don’t tell me that President Obama and his administration don’t have a spending problem when they couldn’t even wait to take office to start spending.

UPDATE on November 10, 2008 at 7:15 PM EST:
A source tells NBC News that Obama pushed Bush on an economic stimulus package, saying that action is needed now, not after the inauguration:

According to the source, Obama told Bush that action is needed on a stimulus package now – in a lame duck session – and cannot wait until after the inauguration.
Obama also urged help for automakers and encouraged the acceleration of the disbursement of $25 billion dollars for the industry.

On his third focus – housing – Obama voiced his concern that homeowners whose mortgage rates are about to go up will need aid to prevent more Americans from defaulting on home loans.


And another,

President-elect Barack Obama asked President Bush today to request the release of the second $350 billion in federal bailout funds so he would have “ammunition” if the country’s fragile economy weakened further.The White House said that Bush has agreed to request the money.
Obama, speaking after a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, said it would be “irresponsible” to enter the White House without having asked Bush to request the funds. He called the cash “potential ammunition” in case the economy worsened.
Bush to Ask for TARP; Obama to ‘Rebrand’ It

By MARK MOONEYJan. 12. 2009

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