Governor abandons "Priorities of Government" - Supplemental budget proposal would double state deficit

Evergreen Freedom Foundation

December 18, 2003

OLYMPIA Governor Gary Locke abandoned the "Priorities of Government" budget model today with a proposed $193 million supplemental budget increase. If adopted, his proposal will nearly double the state deficit to $453 million this biennium, and the carry-forward costs will contribute to a multi-billion dollar deficit in the 2005-07 biennium.

"If Governor Locke is serious about setting priorities, he won't drain one-time emergency reserves to increase spending for ongoing programs," said Bob Williams, president of the Olympia-based Evergreen Freedom Foundation. "The governor's proposal is unsustainable and abandons the promises he made to taxpayers last year."

The governor's proposal eliminates the state's emergency reserve fund, and reduces the state's general reserve fund to less than one percent of state expenditures. Analysts recommend a five-percent reserve.

For the governor to adhere to his Priorities of Government model, his supplemental budget would have to be revenue-neutral this year. This is because the state has no new money to spend in a tough economy. Additional spending that the governor feels is necessary would need to be balanced by corresponding spending cuts elsewhere.

"The governor received national acclaim earlier this year for embracing priority-based budgeting," said Williams. "It's now up to the legislature to exercise true leadership and budget responsibly when they consider this proposal in January."

Facts from the governor's balance sheet (dollars in millions):

Current Budget (2003-05)
Expenditures: $23,081.4
November Revenue Forecast: $22.820.9
Difference: <$260.5>

Governor's Supplemental Budget
Expenditures: $23,274.2
Revenue Forecast: $22,820.9
Difference: <$453.3>

Contact: Jason Mercier | Budget Research Analyst | 360.956.3482


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