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Steve Blackledge,
U.S. PIRG

WashPIRG says “Enough’s enough; time to include loopholes and subsidies in ‘all-cuts’ budgets”

For Immediate Release

As state economists reveal a $1.4 billion shortfall in anticipated state revenues, the Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG) is calling for lawmakers to include the closure of wasteful tax loopholes in efforts to rebalance the state budget.

“The Legislature has tried an ‘all cuts’ approach to pass budgets that just barely pencil out, and end up revisiting those budgets when revenues don’t meet expectations,” said Steve Breaux, public interest advocate at WashPIRG. “Unfortunately, the Legislature doesn’t give equal weight to the loss of revenue through special-interest tax loopholes, and we believe that should be a top budget priority.”

The call for action by the Legislature comes on the same day that WashPIRG is releasing a report – in conjunction with USPIRG and the National Tax Payers Union (NTU) – detailing their recommendations to the bipartisan Congressional ‘Super Committee’ for $1 trillion in federal deficit reduction over ten years.

State revenue forecast highlights need for action by Legislature

With the state revenue forecast down, the Legislature is faced with the prospect of rebalancing a budget that WashPIRG and other groups feel wasn’t well crafted to begin with.

“In their most recent session, the Legislature looked like a carpenter who only knows how to use one tool – a saw,” said Breaux, who advocated for WashPIRG on a variety of issues during the 2011 Legislature. “What’s worse, they only seem to know how to use their saw to cut one kind of lumber – programs that directly impact the quality of life in our state.”

WashPIRG has advocated for the closure of tax loopholes that it believes cost the state necessary revenue, and thinks these should be ‘go to’ items to help balance the budget.

“The billions and billions in cuts haven’t done anything to help our ailing economy, and today’s news highlights the fact the state’s budget problem is on the revenue side of the ledger” said Breaux. “Washington families can’t afford to subsidize unfair and unaccountable tax breaks for Wall Street banks and other special interests.”

Breaux believes there are several approaches available to the Legislature, including closing tax loopholes through legislation or allowing the voters to do so via a referendum. He anticipates participating in discussions to close specific loopholes when the Legislature, either during the next regular session in January or during an earlier special session if one is called.

Unlikely allies release plan for Super Committee to cut $1 Trillion in federal spending

Meanwhile, WashPIRG and the National Tax Payers Union (NTU) today released a report detailing $1 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years. The two groups, which represent constituencies from across the political spectrum, agreed upon spending cuts and budget reforms in an effort to provide a roadmap for how the bipartisan Congressional ‘Super Committee’ can achieve its goals.

The report is an update of recommendations developed last year for the President’s fiscal commission.  The fiscal commission adopted 20 of 30 recommendations in the bipartisan majority report.

This new report identifies 64 specific cuts to what both groups agreed was wasteful and inefficient spending, adding up to $1 trillion in taxpayer savings over ten years.

“In an effort to address the deficit, too often we’ve forgotten to differentiate between the good and the bad; between public priorities and special interest handouts,” said Breaux. “These recommendations correct years of insider lobbying that has benefited narrow interests allowing room either for investment in valued programs or deficit reduction.” 

The 64 cuts include:

  • eliminating wasteful subsidies to large, profitable corporations
  • getting rid of unneeded programs and efficiency improvements to existing programs
  • reform of contracting and acquisition procedures
  • discontinuing low-priority or outdated weapons systems

U.S. PIRG and NTU will present the plan to the Super Committee which has until Thanksgiving to propose $1.2-$1.5 trillion in deficit reduction for action in the full Congress.

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