Senator: Put state government’s ‘sacred cows on a diet’
December 15, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 11 a.m. Dec. 15, 2011
State Sen. Cheryl Pflug — a lawmaker representing Issaquah in Olympia — said the Legislature’s just-concluded 17-day special session laid the foundation for more efforts to rein in spending as legislators return to the Capitol next month to tackle a budget shortfall.
Legislators adjourned from the special session Wednesday afternoon after adopting a $480 million package to trim spending.
Lawmakers needed to reduce spending by $2 billion in order to close a $1.4 billion budget gap. Gov. Chris Gregoire asked lawmakers to cut $2 billion and called the Legislature into a special session. The hole opened in state budget due to lower-than-predicted revenues.
The governor called for a shorter school year, reductions to social-services programs and other measures to cut costs. Gregoire also asked lawmakers to send temporary sales tax increase to voters to offset reductions.
Pflug said the governor needs to do more before lawmakers consider a tax increase.
“The governor has said everything is on the table, so it’s time to look at things that typically have been sacred cows in state government, such as public-employee benefits and tribal gaming revenue,” she said in a statement. “Those represent big pots of money — hundreds of millions — and I think it’s reasonable to put some sacred cows on a diet before postponing highway repairs or cutting necessary services for the elderly, veterans and the disabled.”
Pflug, a registered nurse and Maple Valley Republican, said lawmakers took steps to prepare for the 2012 regular session. Lawmakers return to Olympia for the session Jan. 9.
“It doesn’t do much good to have a legislative session if we don’t have the necessary tools and support for our work,” she said in a statement. “Before the Legislature considers an ‘emergency’ tax increase, we really need to have all options on the table.”
Pflug represents Issaquah and other Eastside communities in the 5th Legislative District.