Opinion

EDITOR'S COLUMN: More creative ways to avoid state cuts

Thanks to some amazing creativity from the Washington State Legislature, this year’s gaping budget deficit was covered over without a general tax increase or making painful cuts. Instead our elected representatives decided to beg, borrow and steal from the future.

This exemplary performance puts us in good stead for next year, when the Legislature will have to paper over an even bigger deficit due to what they did this year. But we now know there’s no need to raise taxes or cut spending as long as our representatives can be creative. We can only imagine what they’re already thinking about.

Naming rights, for example. Most citizens don’t stop to think that well known landmarks in Washington state were named before the concept of naming rights evolved from the primordial ooze of a marketing professional’s brain. The 2002 Legislature should unname everything, and then set about selling naming rights to corporations. The former Mount Rainier, for example, could become Mount Boeing, or even Mount Airbus if the French have a sense of humor. Or perhaps a certain confectionery in Tacoma would buy the rights to name our largest peak Mount Mountain Bar. There’s no end to the revenue this idea could generate: Hurricane Ridge — Ruffles Ridge; Olympic Mountains — Olympia Beer Mountains; Cascade Mountains — Cascade Fresh Water Mountains; Puget Sound — Puget Sound Bank Sound. The sale of naming rights could cover at least half our upcoming megabillion- dollar deficit.

Admission fees: Do you realized that we allow Canadians to enter our state free of charge? What would happen if Disneyland had the same policy? Bankruptcy, of course. Put ticket booths at Blaine and the other points of entry and charge a hefty fee to enter Washingtonland, such as $20 a head (about half the price of Disneyland). It’s still a good deal for access to all our newly-named natural wonders, mega-malls and cheap beer. The Canadians would counter with their own entry fee, of course, but Americans would only pay 60 cents on the dollar.

Olympia Vice: The state already makes a big haul on cigarette, alcohol and gambling taxes. In this time of fiscal crisis, the Legislature may decide to expand the state’s involvement in profitable vices to include marijuana and prostitution, both of which could be promoted with the kind of creative advertising that proved so successful with Lotto. Scene: Satisfied couple in bed sharing a marijuana cigarette. Voiceover: “Enjoy Washington state-approved prostitutes and marijuana — when it’s good enough to pay for, it’s good enough to pay taxes on.”

These are just a few of the ideas that can keep our state bureaucrats fat and happy despite the present budget crisis. We don’t need cuts or more taxes as long as we keep electing such creative individuals to office.

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