So why are local, state, and even the federal government spending money like they have an unlimited supply?
Here in Washington State, the state was unable to balance the budget without establishing an illegal food tax on some food items (see: Yes on I-1107 - Put an end to a lunatic tax scheme in Washington State ) as well as including a provision for receiving federal bailout money. You read this right - the Washington State budget is dependent on receiving money from the federal government - a whopping 29.5% of the budget1
Instead of cutting back and living within the budget, the state and King country government are jointly committing to spend four BILLION dollars on a deep bore tunnel replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct which was damaged during the 2001 Nisqually earthquake. This in spite of the fact there was a vote and the taxpayers emphatically stated they did not wan the tunnel. Most people either want the viaduct earthquake retrofitted or rebuilt.2,3
Seattle is in a major earthquake area and is built on fill dirt. The plan for the deep bore tunnel is to go through and underneath the water table and through the fill Seattle is built on next to many of the cities skyscrapers. Studies have shown that the tunnel will jeopardize 157 buildings during construction and that does not take into consideration the tunnel will cross a major earthquake fault line and that Seattle is due for "the big one"4
How can the state of Washington and King County afford the viaduct replacement tunnel when they are relying on the federal government for a handout so they can balance the budget? Will the Federal Government - the rest of the taxpayers in the country - be paying 29.5% of the viaduct cost since they pay for 29.5% of Washington State's budget already?1
Not just the viaduct replacement tunnel but the state of Washington has funded (with the help of the federal government handouts) many nice - but entirely unnecessary - projects the past two years. There is new electronic road signs all throughout the Puget Sound area cost 20 million federal tax dollars5, a new warning system costing 1.4 million dollars on the Alaskan Way Viaduct6 - even though it is planned to be torn down in a few years when the replacement tunnel is built, and the city of Seattle just unveiled a new arterial drive time electronic signs - the first in the country7
All of these projects are nice and nice to have - but they are not NECESSITIES. And during this time Washington State, the city of Seattle, and King County are cutting back on essential services including police and fire. They are also closing libraries and all government agencies on furlough days to cut back on payroll costs. They also threaten the people with cuts across the board and closing of parks and libraries unless the people vote for more taxes. Never mind they are building more parks and spend millions of dollars for art work as they make these threats.
When will the government do like the rest of us and cut out projects and unnecessary expenditures until the economy improves? This post is just on unessential projects and there are thousands of them throughout the United States. There is much more waste in many government agencies I may write about in the future.
The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Living on a Budget, 2nd Edition