For the first time in 15 years, the 2011-13 state budgets spend less than our revenues. It’s a budget that credibly, though barely, lives within its means. This involves some suffering, but positions us for more responsible budgets in the future. Worker’s compensation reform will lower costs to businesses. An updated Uniform Parentage Act accommodates the reality of new fertility techniques and of biologic and adoptive parents. This will help our courts settle custody suits more easily.
Despite the bipartisan rhetoric, too many of the centrist values of our district were ignored. The budget contains few real structural reforms; the bill to limit state debt is easily overcome by a future majority. The cuts to K-12 and higher education are far too severe and will result in students entering the workforce deeply in debt. And Washington’s tax revenue disproportionately burdens suburban districts who must contribute more to support urban and rural districts.
Legislators capitulated to special interests on many fronts. Pharmaceutical lobbies shot down legislation that would have recovered millions in fraud. A bill to curb the arms race in “freestanding ERs,” which exploit a loophole in federal law to charge astronomical fees for non-urgent care met a similar fate. Ditto attempts to reign in executive salaries at “non-profit” hospitals and the bloated advertising budgets they pass off as “charity care.”