Part 1: Really, A balanced Budget?
A Washington State Representative recently quoted from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” remarking on the political difference between taking the easy road versus taking the road less traveled. Unfortunately, many of our establishment politicians have chosen the easy path, rather than tackling the difficulties of the road less traveled. Our children and grandchildren will pay the price for their irresponsible decisions. In the Republican Party, this easier path is often traveled by the establishment candidates whose highest priority seems to be getting re-elected rather than serving the people. In their quest to fulfill their political ambition they have literally risked government bankruptcy. Even people who don’t pay attention to politics know we face significant financial problems in America.
On top of the over-spending currently going on at the state level, establishment politicians like Patty Murray have raided Social Security time and again to cover Congress’s spending addiction. All taxpayers will soon face the shakedown: giving up more money to cover the bouncing checks of our government. Here in Washington State, we face double that problem. On top of each citizen being on the hook for the excesses of the federal government, we are also all on the hook for tens of billions of dollars in State Employee retirement shortfalls.
Why? Washington State has been underfunding their employees’ retirement system since 2003, and it is now at least $8 billion in the hole.1 “How did this happen?” you ask. You should ask! It is rooted in the budget of 2003. That’s right! The famous hand-across-the-aisle, bipartisan “balanced” budget that is Dino Rossi’s claim to fame in two races for Governor. In one of his own budget proposals, Dino Rossi “creatively” changed the way retirement payments are calculated, significantly decreasing the amount of money paid in by both the state and its employees.2 The amount of money paid out did not decrease, but increased annually, as employees continued to retire with higher salaries, thus driving up the size of the ballooning shortfall. To be clear, this is not the fault of the state employees, it is a fault of the Legislature and the Governor. The Author was Dino Rossi, and he knew the effects of this legislation.3 He did to the State Retirement system what Patty Murray and congress have done to Social Security.
While the bill that Rossi sponsored did not make it to the Governor’s pen, EHB 2254 with nearly all of the same language, and all of the same negative effects, did.4 The “smoothing method” reduced the amount of employee and employer contributions, in essence stealing from the pension funds, and costing all of us big dollars in the future. The future is now, and the blame leads straight to Dino Rossi, who voted for this legislation.5
The problem we now face, both here at home and on a national level, can be tied directly to the fiscal irresponsibility of establishment politicians like Rossi and Murray. It’s no secret we’re in trouble.6 Do you really trust an Establishment politician who’s already shown he is willing to treat pension funds like Social Security? Do you really want someone who will saddle your children with debt and claim it is a successful budgeting process? We shouldn’t be willing to just switch parties in power if it means electing a US Senator who is willing to continue the status quo, regardless of party. We need to elect a US Senator who is willing to stand up and say “Today I will begin working to repair the damage our government has done.”
We can still save our economy, but time is running out.
[Editor’s note: Chuck Skirko is an 11-year US Army veteran, who spent almost six years in law enforcement before pursuing higher education. He has served as the Student Body President at Spokane Community College, and President of the Gonzaga College Republicans at Gonzaga University in Spokane WA, where he recently obtained his Bachelors Degree. He currently serves as President of the Spokane County Young Republicans, as an executive board member for the Spokane Valley Republican Action Committee, as Sgt at Arms for the Spokane Chapter of CAPR, and as the Gonzaga Staff Advisor for the Gonzaga College Republicans. He is often sought out by local candidates for research and strategic consulting.]