"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Equalizing the pain

In times good, not everyone benefits equally, and in times bad, not everyone suffers the same – sometimes, not at all. Not everyone has been faring badly these last few years, just a lot of people.

In the Tacoma News Tribune today, columnist Peter Callaghan writes about Governor Chris Gregoire, who has proposed a mass of big spending cuts in state government, and is angry about it. Angry among others, it turns out, at local government.

Many local governments, she indicated, have been doing much better than state government, and have even been raiding state government for key employees.

Callaghan: “I asked staffers for some examples. A chief information officer for a state agency was hired by King County for a $115,000 pay raise. That person’s assistant went, too, for a 50 percent hike. Pierce County hired a chief financial officer from the state for a $20,000 raise. Tacoma hired a chief financial officer away for a 20 percent raise and more vacation. Seattle hired three state tax auditors for raises between 20 percent and 25 percent. A senior information technology worker left the state for a 15 percent raise with the Port of Tacoma. Gregoire is beyond seeking sympathy. She surely realizes that many residents of the state continue to view the bureaucracy as a part of the problem. But she doesn’t think residents realize that state workers have suffered more than other governments’ employees.”

Why would this be happening? Maybe in part because Washington state government relies heavily on sales and business & occupation taxes that have been sliced by the bad economy, while local governments have been supported more by property taxes, which haven’t taken nearly so large a hit.

Point being this: The state legislature, which will arriving in a month, will have authority to make some adjustments. Will Gregoire ask for them? And have the local governments enough clout to fend them off if she does?

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