Fiscal Responsibility

Government needs to live within its means and budget just like the rest of us do. Increasing taxes and essentially taking money out of our neighbors pockets should be the last resort—not the first.

 

All too often as soon as more revenue seems to be required in Olympia, the first answer looked to is almost always to increase taxes. Instead, we should look to the budget and the state agencies to ask what the real priorities are, what can we do without, and how can we get more for our money. These are the hard choices we have to make with our personal budgets as citizens and it’s what businesses must do with their budgets or they’ll lilkely go out of business. We should be able to expect the same fiscal responsibility from our State Government.


Tax increases are not the answer to budget shortfalls. More work with agencies to cut uneccessary spending and waste, including implementing real accountability measures, must take place. One only needs to look at recent projects which demonstrate this reality including the Washington State Department of Transporation’s (WSDOT) Big Bertha/Alaskan Way Viaduct Project which has incurred a 2 year delay and $220 million in extra expenses paid to subcontractors. Also the WSDOT SR-520 Floating Bridge Project had widespread cracks in 4 of the floating pontoons that were built in Aberdeen, WA, has been delayed over a year and a half and the fixes have cost over $81 million . There shouldn’t be a pattern of missed timelines and budgets yet there seems to be and very little has been done to systematically address these issues and prevent them in the future.


There tends to be a “use it or lose it” budget mentality that I’ve seen firsthand at the State of Washington government agencies in Olympia while working in the private sector. We need to move away from this baseline budgeting (use it or lose it) approach and instead move to $0-based budgeting. This way agencies would not feel the “need” to spend their entire budget in order to justify an increase next fiscal year. We need to move to $0 based budgeting and explore incentives for agencies to spend taxpayer funds in a wise and limited fashion.