Recklessly toying with a $4.5B risk
(Note: While this is a personal blog not paid for with any public funds, I rarely discuss overtly political issues or campaigns. This entry is intended to raise the financial issues associated with a proposed initiative before the public.)
Our state budget is complex. The nearly $40 billion biennial budget struggles under the constant pressures of constitutional, statutory, federal mandates and moral directives to support public education, health care, housing, environmental cleanup, foster youth, nursing home and child care center inspections and so much more.
Financial risk is inherently part of the deal of running a multi-billion organization serving seven million people. Still, we as a state–regardless of party leadership–rarely recklessly ignore legitimate financial risks to our credit ratings, balanced budget and critical services.
Today, however, it seems Washington is now dangerously flirting with serious financial risk as I-1515–Just Want Privacy— begins the process of hiring paid signature-gathering firms to reach the initiative ballot. The opposition is organizing simultaneously led by the business community I suspect in large part because of the financial risks involved. They see what is happening in North Carolina. This is exactly the same social policy regarding transgender people and bathroom access that is bringing North Carolina to it’s knees as the federal government directly threatens the state with reductions in federal support due to that state’s aggressive pursuit of discriminatory legislation.
A new report from the respected Williams Institute–a policy shop out of UCLA–outlines in detail how Washington would likely realize at least $4.5 billion in annual federal spending reductions if the initiative reaches the ballot and ultimately passes. The Stranger, hardly a bastion of conservative fiscal discipline, outlined the risks as well.
Education support, state and local matches in key programs and much more would all be endangered if Washington follows the same path as North Carolina. More than 50% of the entire state budget is dedicated to early learning, K-12 and higher education. Why would we risk our entire financial partnership with the federal government in order to pursue a controversial social policy that has yet to be shown to even be an actual problem? The entire issue seems to have surfaced only after conservative social organizations raised the concern based on anecdotal complaints.
I’m a risk taker in pursuing disruptive technologies and new market opportunities in my business and entrepreneurial life.
Regardless of politics, policy, ideology, ethics or social values that’s not a hat I suggest we wear as citizen legislators. We have a fiduciary obligation as budget writers in the Washington State Legislature on behalf of seven million people to minimize risk not purposely detonate a financial bomb.
Your partner in service,