Federal dollars boost health care programs. Plus: our $8 billion hole, time for a tax increase, California’s solution and investments in higher ed

February 23, 2009 | Alex Stone

Obama pledges $15B for Medicaid, answers critics: President Barack Obama promised quick help for strapped Medicaid programs Monday as he brought in advisers and adversaries to discuss keeping entitlement programs from exploding the federal deficit.

Local View: Washington can’t afford to curtail its support for Basic Health Plan: The state operating budget proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire would cut the Basic Health Plan by 42 percent at the exact time that the number of uninsured people in Washington is rising steeply. By the end of 2009, there will be an estimated 89,000 new uninsured people in Washington just related to increased unemployment. Basic Health is needed now more than ever to help families maintain stability during this time of economic uncertainty.

$8 billion shortfall forecast for Washington state budget: It used to be lawmakers could reassure themselves a little about the state’s budget woes by noting California was in much worse shape. No longer. A preliminary state revenue forecast Thursday pushed Washington’s state budget shortfall to $8 billion. As a proportion of the state’s general fund, that’s nearly as bad as the mess in California.

Opinion: OK, let’s put a tax increase on ballot: The Evergreen State relies on a sales tax, under which dollars flowing into state coffers decline at exactly the time when demand for state social services is rising. And with an $8 billion budget hole, an all-cuts budget is no longer an option. So what else can be done?

Paul Krugman: Banking on the Brink: What Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman — and a staunch defender of free markets — actually said was, “It may be necessary to temporarily nationalize some banks in order to facilitate a swift and orderly restructuring.” Why does Paul Krugman agree?

Schwarzenegger defends tax hikes, applauds stimulus: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday defended his decision to raise taxes as a necessary step to stem California’s staggering economic crisis. Schwarzenegger said that he drastically slashed spending in the new budget and that elected officials who disagree with his approach are “not in touch” with the public.

Opinion: State must invest in higher ed: As the economy worsens and the state’s budget deficit follows suit, the time is now for legislators to invest in higher education. On the national scene, Americans have been inundated with news of the recession, Wall Street run amok and government watchdogs asleep at the wheel. Washingtonians have watched this national drama unfold right at home. State residents didn’t need the latest news on the region’s housing stock to tell them the economic situation is ugly.

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Posted in Education, Health Care, Retirement Security, State Economy, Tax and Budget, Work & Family

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