Budget Cuts You Can Believe In

I find myself in the awkward position of agreeing with Washington State Governor, Christine Gregoire. I know they say there’s a first time for everything, but still, it’s weird.

According to the Seattle Times, Gregoire favors deportations as a way to cut state’s jail costs. I agree with that!

Her proposal estimates that deporting illegal immigrants — who are serving or would serve time in state jails for drug- or property-crime convictions — will save the state more than $9 million in the next two-year budget.

The state faces a $5.7 billion budget deficit over the next 2 ½ years, and Gregoire has proposed a no-new-taxes budget laden with cuts, including about $200 million from the Department of Corrections, the Attorney General’s Office and other public-safety programs.

The deportation proposal is modeled after a program in Arizona that has saved that state more than $18.5 million since 2005, said Eldon Vail, secretary of Washington’s Department of Corrections.

Does anyone else feel the least bit outraged that we’re providing food, shelter and clothing to undocumented, criminal immigrants? But I repeat myself.

While it’s true the $9 million is chump change when you’re staring down the barrel of an estimated $5.7 billion deficit, it’s still 9 million taxpayer dollars that could better be spent on services for people who live here, well, you know, legally.

Adding to the surreal feeling of being in agreement with our esteemed governor are the verbal gymnastics employed by reporter Manuel Valdes, who alternately refers to illegal aliens as either undocumented workers or illegal immigrants – in the same paragraph.

Gregoire’s proposal represents a policy shift toward illegal immigrants from a state that had largely stayed away from immigration enforcement. Washington state, with its large agricultural industry, attracts a large number of undocumented workers, mostly from Mexico.

Score that a 9.7!

Who I don’t agree with is Jorge Baron, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Jorge is always concerned when states try to enforce immigration laws because the laws are, apparently, too complex for dimwitted officials to understand. He’s concerned because someone might be deported who would still be eligible for citizenship, despite a criminal conviction. Huh? Even if they’re eligible, why would we want them as citizens? They’re criminals, for crying out loud!

Who else I don’t agree with is State Senator Margarita Prentice. Senator Prentice says:

“Not everybody can be rehabilitated, but I know no one deserves to be mistreated.”

Prentice, who chairs the Ways and Means committee and writes the Senate’s budget proposal, said she will oppose the measure.

Do you see the bit that I don’t agree with? The bit where she characterizes deporting criminals as “mistreatment?” Oh, and by the way, I also don’t agree with the part where she says she’ll oppose the measure. Thanks Margarita. Don’t you think it’s time to start worrying about mistreating people who live here, well, you know, legally? Maybe by letting them keep a little more of their hard-earned cash?

Senator Prentice is also concerned that the deportation of criminals might lead to cuts in “other programs that provide humanitarian aid to illegal immigrant women and their children,” even though no such cuts have been proposed. But since she brought it up, why are we spending precious dollars on programs for people who have shown a distressing lack of regard for the rule of law? And why does she hide behind illegal women and children as she grabs for my wallet?

Anyway, to get back to my original point, I’m going to give credit where credit is due. Way to go, Christine, for proposing a common-sense budget cut. Now we’ll see if she stands behind her proposal when it’s being considered by the legislature.

Cross posted at It’s Only Words.