The price of a balanced budget. Plus: health care access, budget cuts, early childhood education and unemployment in Oregon

December 16, 2008 | Alex Stone

Gregoire’s pledge won’t be last word on taxes: True to her campaign promise, Gov. Chris Gregoire plans this week to release a balanced budget that does not rely on new taxes to deal with a $5.8 billion deficit.

State deficit huge, but so are the requests: From the University of Washington’s hope that taxpayers will help pay for a football-stadium renovation to rural lawmakers’ desire to overhaul property taxes, there still are plenty of big, costly ideas floating around as legislators prepare for a historically dour session.

Budget cuts to hurt health care access: It’s the worst-case scenario. To help balance the current state budget, health officials are cutting 7,700 slots in the Basic Health Plan, the taxpayer-supported plan that provides the poor with medical insurance. The elimination might well be a precursor of things to come as state budget writers are forced to fill a $4.6 billion anticipated shortfall in the 2009-11 budget.

Budget cuts to take toll on services: Tests for cancer, child care quality ratings for parents, health insurance for the working class — cutting back on any one of them would draw plenty of attention in good times.

Arne Duncan Nominated as Secretary of Education: This morning, President-elect Barack Obama will announce that he is nominating Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education.

Oregon jobless rate jumps to 8.1 percent: The state reports Oregon’s unemployment rate shot up nearly a percentage point in November, rising to 8.1 percent.

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

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