Legislators already cut more than $3 billion in our budget this past session and finding another $1.7 billion in savings is not an easy task.
Rep. Reuven Carlyle posted his thoughts and puts $1.7 billion in context:
To put it in perspective, how big is $1.7 billion?Nothing is decided yet, but it's clear that more cuts are coming to programs people care about. Earlier this week we pointed out concerns about potential cuts to early learning programs for low-income children. Talks are underway about closing corrections facilities.
Here are three symbolic but legitimate examples of public services and programs that add up to about $1.7 billion:
We could close all 34 community and technical colleges statewide that serve 470,000 students: $1.4 billion
Close Department of Commerce: $103 million
Close Department of Revenue: $218 million
Total: $1.72 billion
Eliminate all state funding for the University of Washington, Washington State University: $1 billion
Eliminate all state funding for Central, Eastern, Western and the Evergreen State College: $337 million
Eliminate all state funding for Department of Health: $193 million
Total: $1.53 billion
Close the Department of Corrections: $1.6 billion. (How’s that for perspective?)
For helpful background about the budget and some of the not-so-great choices facing legislators, check out this presentation from the Office of Financial Management. It has some great information. For example - did you know that $21.6 billion of our $31 billion is protected by constitutional or federal mandates? That means the $1.7 billion we have to cut must come from a tiny $9.3 billion slice of the budget pie.
And don't forget your role in all this. Your legislator would love to answer your questions and hear about your ideas and priorities. Send a note or call. Really. What else do you have to do on a rainy weekend?