House GOP 2011 Supplemental Amendment

Yesterday Rep. Alexander released an amendment to strike SHB 1086, the 2011 Supplemental bill that was approved by the House Ways and Means (W&M) committee earlier this week.  (The amendment and a summary of its effects can be accessed here.)

How to Contain Health Care Spending

Yesterday the latest paper in the Thrive Washington series was released: Containing State Health Care Spending While Improving Outcomes.

This was a timely release, given the vote yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal federal health care reform and the major cuts in health spending that are being contemplated in the Washington legislature.

The House Democrats' 2011 Supplemental

Yesterday the House Democrats released their proposed 2011 Supplemental (HB 1086).  It does not cut as deeply as the governor's proposal, which would cut $255 million (NGFS+Opportunity Pathways).  Instead, the House Democrats would cut $216 million.  Some differences are:

About Those Tuition Increases...

The theme of this week's posts at the Becker-Posner blog is tuition increases at public universities. 

Posner argues that keeping tuition low for all students--regardless of ability to pay--is unwarranted:

Public-Sector Unions

The Economist has an interesting article on public-sector unions in the U.S. and elsewhere (and the challenges they face as governments cut back on spending).  They note that union density in the public sector is much stronger than that in the private sector. This is true both nationally in the U.S. and in Washington.

1.14.11 pic


Pacific Place Garage

Fewer people have been parking at the city of Seattle’s Pacific Place garage, and the facility is losing money as a result. In an op-ed in today’s Seattle Times, Matt Griffin and I suggest that the city should cut rates to regain volume.

Health Care and Employee Benefits Spending Charts

In her State of the State address yesterday (reported on by the Seattle Times here), Gov. Gregoire pointed to two areas of state spending that must be tackled, for the long-term health of the budget:  health care and pension spending.  The governor noted that health care costs have doubled over the past decade, while pension costs will double in the next biennium.

January Collections Report

The Office of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council today released the January Economic and Revenue Update. The "headline" numbers show collections for the most recent month to be $36.9 million (3.4 percent) greater than anticipated under the November revenue forecast. Cumulatively, for the two months since the November forecast, revenues are $61.0 million (2.3 percent) higher than anticipated.

The situation is not quite as bright as these headline numbers suggest.

Fixing the Budget Problem by Reducing Waste and Fraud?

A recent Elway Poll, according to the Seattle Times, found that 71 percent of those polled think the budget could be balanced simply by reducing waste and fraud.  This is wishful thinking.  While reducing waste and fraud can certainly contribute to the budget solution, the magnitude of the problem ($4.6 billion) is such that it will not be enough.