Letters to the Editor

Spending outpacing revenue

I went to the town hall meeting Saturday, featuring the three 47th District legislators. One earnestly observed that the state has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. The reaction by a segment of the crowd was disgust. I hope people can see that the facts support the legislator.

A graph created by using the official state accounting data from fiscal.wa.gov shows spending rising from $39.4 billion in the 1997-'99 biennium to $68.5 billion in 2007-'09 biennium. That is about 73 percent. (We are currently on course to spend $72 billion in '09-'11). During the same years, 1997-2009, the population of Washington, plus inflation, rose 38 percent. Now is that a spending problem?

Using the Department of Revenue, Office of Financial Management documents from the November 2010 forecast (page 63), we can see that the only biennium when general fund state revenue was lower was 2007-2009 and was .2-percent lower than the previous biennium. Otherwise, from 1997-1999 to 2007-2009, receipts went from 19.6 billion to 27.7 billion, which is an increase of 42 percent and the expected take in 2009-2011 is 28.1 billion. Generally, revenue has been up each biennium.

I can't explain the disparity between spending and revenue, but it does appear that the Legislature, which has been controlled by one party for many years, has spent at a faster rate than population, inflation and revenue collections.

– Donald Kelts

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