This week the Washington State Legislature held meetings in Olympia in various sub-committees to prepare for the upcoming "short" session in January. The state's projected budget shortfall of 2.6 billion dollars is the number 1 topic.
Decisions will be made that will put an end to the state being all things to all people. The question becomes, will the state deny some things to all people?
The state may want to stop supporting "tax poor" school districts by cutting some, or all, of Levy Equalization. Will it also deny "tax rich" school districts the ability to raise higher levies?
As it cuts support to counties for health and human services for its citizens will it deny counties different taxing sources to not only make up for the state's shortfall, but the same shortfall counties are facing?
Further, will the state grant authority to counties and cities to choose to raise, or extend local taxes for non-essential services?
As we travel down this road of hard choices, and we answer no, are we denying local control over communities? If we are answering yes are we creating a stark contrast between those that "have", and those that "have not"?
To a great degree we are already living this way. The challenge for the state is to decide what they will commit to supporting, and ensure that power and authority is passed to local jurisdictions to allow them to pick up the pieces not supported by the state.
This is not entirely different than the relationship between the states and the federal government (see Medicare), or the relationship between the county and its cities.
Hopefully those that let go of the responsibility for somethings also let go of the authority, so local communities will be able to say yes where the state says no.