In this edition, you’ll read more about Gov. Chris Gregoire and other leaders urging the U.S. Senate to extend Medicaid matching funds that are vital to maintaining health care for kids and families. You’ll also find an opinion piece applauding Washington lawmakers for raising revenue that prevented budget cuts and protected services that will help families and our state weather this lingering economic downturn.
Four governors and a leading national economist urged Congress
on Wednesday to send an additional $24 billion bailout to the states,
saying cash-strapped governments face deep budget cuts and thousands of
lost jobs without the aid. The money would flow through Medicaid, the
health insurance program for the poor jointly financed by state and
Let’s talk about taxes. Talking with state legislators, you get
the feeling that they want to apologize for the new taxes they voted
for, as if that was the wrong thing to do. They came up with some new revenue,
which makes sense, both because our citizens need the help and because
the taxes themselves will benefit our own health, environment and
quality of life. No need to apologize for that.
For some odd reason, Americans divide health care into two
parts: teeth – and everything else. It’s as if the jaw somehow floats
around disconnected from the rest of the body. Most parents will take
their kids to the doctor if they get the flu. But far too many will let
cavities fester, sometimes leaving children with persistent pain, ruined
teeth and poor school performance.
Bottlers have settled on the tax-rollback measure they'll try
to get on the ballot: Initiative 1107, which would repeal the
Legislature's taxes this year on soda pop, candy, gum, bottled water and
certain food processors, but not beer. The pro-revenue groups have
formed a committee that may fight the initiative.
To help mitigate the recession’s impact on the state budget,
policymakers in Washington State recently extended the sales tax to
candy and gum. A solid majority of states, 31, currently levy sales
taxes on candy. Including candy in the tax base is expected to generate
some $30.3 million in new resources during the current fiscal year,
which is needed to help preserve essential public services like health
care and education while the economy recovers.
State lawmakers will likely begin next year's legislative
session staring at an even bigger deficit than the one that caused them
to raise taxes on things like bottled water, booze, soda and cigarettes
this year. The gap between revenues and "basic spending pressures" will
be roughly $3 billion, according to a new report from the Office of
Financial Management. Earlier this year lawmakers had to plug a $2.8
billion shortfall with a combination of spending cuts and roughly $800
million in new taxes.