Back To The Playbook

Olympia has gone back to the playbook to prep voters to say “Yes!” to new taxes. Remember, the first play was, “it’s for the children,” an old and trusty standby and today it’s “we’re sorry, we just can’t keep you safe.” I almost expect the State to pull out some variation of King County’s old standard, “you don’t need no stinkin’ 911.”

As reported in the Seattle Times, lawmakers are considering closing prisons and releasing prisoners early as part of the cuts needed to close the out budget deficit. It’s projected that this move would save $16 million over two years, which seems like chump change compared to the cost:

“[Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Margarita] Prentice is backing a plan in the Senate’s proposed state budget to close the McNeil Island Correctional Complex, a 1,300-inmate, medium-security island prison in Pierce County….

…The Senate budget also would close Green Hill School, the state lockup for violent and gang-entrenched juveniles; downsize the state prison population by 1,900 inmates; and drop people convicted of low-level felonies and misdemeanors from probation.

The House, in its proposed budget, would cut probation time for violent felons and sex offenders; allow for home detention instead of incarceration in some cases; close the medium-security Naselle Youth Camp; and eliminate parole for nearly a third of all juvenile offenders.”

For my readers from other states, McNeil Island houses the Special Commitment Center, which, while not a program of the Department of Corrections, relies on support from Corrections personnel to help run the facility.

Essentially the State is saying the voters better ante up on those new taxes or don’t hold them responsible for what happens when all those felons are turned out of the prisons. They’re hoping that this is the year – finally! – they can ram that state income tax down the throats of Washington taxpayers.

It all comes back to Olympia’s strategy of funding low priority budget items and giving essential services short shrift or, in less lofty terms, blackmailing the voters into approving new taxes.

Question: What about State aid and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants? Is that on the table? Don’t count on it.

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Filed under Budget, Washington

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