Category Archives: Washington State Budget

‘Swift and certain’ parole program passes Senate

In March we had a story about the state Department of Corrections program that would be part of a number of changes affecting Kitsap County jail. The program passed the state Senate today. I’ll post the Senate Democrats press release after this little comment.

Kitsap Sun commenters caught the quote from Chad Lewis, state Department of Corrections spokesman, who said Corrections considered the program because it would cost less to implement how it handles parole violators now. What commenters apparently missed was the second part.

Lewis said the new, less expensive, program works better.

Hence the reference to the Pew Center on the States study that reported the same program in Hawaii meant violators were “less likely to be arrested for a new crime, to use drugs and to have their probation revoked.”

Because commenters missed or ignored that part of the story, the ongoing argument was over taxes, budgets and liberal and conservative spending values. That argument was not completely inappropriate, because the state did go into this looking for cost savings, which means the corrections budget is being cut. And it does translate to bad news for the county, because there is less money for the budget.

Still, did the point “It costs less and works better” pass by everyone? Did I write the story that badly? Be honest.

In some ways I thought this was a good news story, though clearly it’s tough for the county jail to be counting on less money. The positive, though, was in someone’s ability to take advantage of a crisis, to find a solution perhaps no one would have sought had there not been a problem.

Apparently the state Senate thought it was a good idea. The bill allowing for the program passed 43-2.

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Have a whack at balancing the state’s budget

The Washington League of Education Voters has posted a program on its website that allows individuals to balance the state budget, or attempt to do so, from the comfort of their own living rooms or workplaces. The task, come up with $4.6 billion worth of cuts or revenue enhancements for the 2011-2013 budget. Items listed are those being considered by the Legislature.

I had a go, but in the interest of remaining an objective reporter, I won’t be sharing it with you. I will say that I balanced the budget, but I was not proud of my choices. I’ll admit I was drawn to to the larger ticket items, especially when my first effort, which I thought was pretty harsh, barely made a dent. Also, I’ll admit to being emboldened by the fact I knew this was just an exercise that will not have an actual effect on people, businesses and the environment.

I also noticed an absence of certain revenue-generating items that apparently aren’t on the table at this time, for example the hypothetical revenue from the sale of marijuana in state liquor stores. Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, on Tuesday filed a bill to allow this. A similar effort, also by Dickerson, failed last year.

Hey, I know a way to generate some revenue. They should market this program as a video game like The Sims, sell it to Facebook … call it “The Chopping Block” …

So, let us know how you do and what creative ideas you come up with. The program allows you to post a link to your plan. Attached is a primer on the budget process from the state’s Office of Financial Management on the 2009-11 biennial budget, which may come in handy as a guide.budgetprocess