We need plan, not promises

With just four more days until Washington voters select their next governor, neither candidate has wavered from the politically expedient promise of filling a $2 billion budget hole without raising taxes.

Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee insist they each have a plan to meet the state’s $1 billion constitutional obligation to K-12 education and will find another $1 billion in savings to balance the state budget over the next biennium.

It’s a lot of campaign rhetoric, because both plans mostly rely on a dramatic economic recovery to boost state revenues.

Gov. Chris Gregoire knows the candidates’ promises aren’t achievable. Based on her eight years of experience, any realistic plan must include both new revenue and spending cuts.

Some unlikely support for Gregoire’s position came late last week from 80 business executives, representing major U.S. corporations. Referring to the ideological loggerhead in Congress, the CEOs of Weyerhaeuser, Microsoft and other firms issued a joint statement saying the $1 trillion federal deficit can only be solved by higher taxes and lower government spending.

The executives favored a plan that cuts $3 for every $1 raised in new revenue, a framework suggested by the bipartisan deficit commission appointed by President Barack Obama last year, known as the Simpson-Bowles plan.

Many of the CEOs support Republican candidates, who panicked during last year’s debt-ceiling showdown, and fear a second recessionary period if Congress leads the nation over the “fiscal cliff” at midnight Dec. 31. That’s when the Budget Control Act goes into effect, forcing across-the-board spending cuts in every federal department, including the military.

The CEOs’ acknowledgment that lawmakers must consider both sides of the budget equation can help reframe the conversation at both the national and state levels.

The statement sends a much-needed message: leave the anti-tax pledges behind and work for the benefit of the entire nation, not just your political allies.