Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Former Microsoft Managers Now In Charge of Washington State's Budget 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the with-special-advisor-Clippy dept.
reifman writes "The Seattle Times reports, 'For the first time in state history, the Washington state budget is being written by Microsofties,' Representative Ross Hunter has 'tamed his Microsoft-style head-butting with a politician's trust-building.' Senator Andy Hill is 'the first Senate budget chair ever to request Excel files instead of paper spreadsheets.' 'The two must find $1 billion in new money for the state's K-12 system.' Unfortunately, The Times neglects to mention that Hunter and Microsoft are among those behind the deficit and cutbacks in the first place. Hunter helped pass the amnesty bill for Microsoft's $1.5 billion Nevada tax dodge ($4.37 billion if you include impacts from its lobbying to reduce tax rates) that contributed to $4 billion in cuts to K-12 and higher education since 2008. The state has resorted to using Yelp to tax dancing to try to make up the shortfall (for real)."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Former Microsoft Managers Now In Charge of Washington State's Budget

Comments Filter:
  • Ob (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665)

    Just hope they aren't using excel to do the budget.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23448-how-to-stop-excel-errors-driving-austerity-economics.html [newscientist.com]

    Also, frist poot.

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @08:43AM (#43566431) Journal

      When the M$ mole infested Nokia, Nokia tanked

      Sales tanked, share price tanked, everything tanked

      Will Washington state be next ?

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        Yes, but it's not MS that caused Nokia to tank and it's not MS that is causing USA to tank either. Pretty bad timing though, I would not have taken that job unless I was given a green light to cut all government spending close to 0.

        • it's not MS that caused Nokia to tank

          They didn't exactly help, though.

        • I would not have taken that job unless I was given a green light to cut all government spending close to 0.

          By which, of course, you mean the salaries of all the employees other than yourself. You would cut (most || all) of the government employees, and in the process your salary would (grow a lot || grow ridiculously) while you would force people to do (all || more than all) of the work that the fired people were doing for free. Meanwhile you would be doing (less work than before || no work at all) while celebrating your achievements.

          And of course, in the process your power would have increased (incalcula

        • by Tough Love (215404) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @12:39PM (#43567963)

          it's not MS that caused Nokia to tank

          That is self serving Microsoft bullshit. On the day Elop released his stupid memo Nokia lost 20% and it was all downhill from there. Fact.

        • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @12:45PM (#43567997) Homepage
          M$ did cause Nokia to tank [seekingalpha.com]. That was done via Elop. The topic of Elop comes up often [blogs.com] at Tomi Ahonen's blog. He is the most accurate mobile forcaster around and has on multiple occasions enumerated the damage being caused by Microsoft's Elop at Nokia. Nokia was at the top of it's game when Elop killed it [blogs.com]. The Linux phone that he stopped was getting better reviews than the iPhone. But at this point there's nothing viable left and he's even brought in more people from M$ than just himself to ensure that the damage is permanent. Most of the talent has been fired or left on their own. If you want to look for progress, you'll have to turn away from Nokia and towards Jolla. That's just a sample of what the state of Washington can expect with microsofter in charge.
        • So you are one of those tools that think the only purpose of gov't is to make sure people don't interfere with corporations...

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by jamstar7 (694492)

          Yes, but it's not MS that caused Nokia to tank and it's not MS that is causing USA to tank either. Pretty bad timing though, I would not have taken that job unless I was given a green light to cut all government spending close to 0.

          If Microsoft isn't paying its fair share of taxes, how is this not causing Washington state and the US as a whole not to tank? If they're playing the money shuffle game to keep from paying billions, and lawyering the government to death to keep from paying fines, how is this not affecting everyone through loss of revenue and wasted government spending in failed attempts to collect fines levied against them by the courts?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

        Microsoft killed Nokia because it wanted to kill Nokia. That was obvious as it was happening.

        I'm not a fan of their technology at all, but they do know how to make money quite well and there's no reason to believe that their financial managers are incompetent or irresponsible with their own interests.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        When the M$ mole infested Nokia, Nokia tanked

        Sales tanked, share price tanked, everything tanked

        Will Washington state be next ?

        This is Nokia's 5-year share price [google.com] trend. Can you spot any change where Elop joined?

      • This article is making a serious mistake though. I guarantee you that the $1 billion they claim was lost due to lost tax revenue wouldn't have been dumped into the education system. Maybe some of it would have, but for the most part the other government agencies would be sticking their hands out, and many of them would probably have first dibs (namely stupid-yet-loved items like paying sports franchises to keep teams there - not that this is what is happening in Washington, but these kinds of things tend to

        • by Nethead (1563)

          Actually a WA judge is ordering the state legislature to come up with the money for schools because, per the state constitution:

          SECTION 1 PREAMBLE. It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

          SECTION 2 PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools. The public school system shall include common scho

          • The problem, of course, is that people confuse "ample provision" with "everything the school system asks". What is ample provision? Is $10,000 per student ample provision? Many private schools - who do not get all the benefits of State-ownership - educate students with costs below that level...
    • Re:Ob (Score:4, Informative)

      by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @10:03AM (#43566929)

      The problem was somebody made some serious mistakes when they were inputting the data.

      That wasn't an excel error. Excel did it's job exactly as it was supposed to (not joking, it really did.) Excel can't tell you when your data is wrong, rather only what your data amounts to as per your parameters. Garbage in, garbage out.

      Both TFA and TFS in that case made mistakes of their own when they blamed Excel, and TFE (The Fucking Editor) didn't catch it.

      • One of the most common mistakes is entering something that looks like a number, but isn't. Say there's a space between the digits, or before them.

        While that's the user's fault, when you do a calculation with it excel could at least say something, rather than just fucking pretending there's zero in the cell.

        • Re:Ob (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 27, 2013 @10:37AM (#43567157)

          No that is not the user's fault. When there is an error state and the program doesn't indicate that there is an error state, that is bad design.

        • Excel will pop an error if you throw that into a mathematical formula. The dependent cell will show #NUM, which indicates a problem exactly like the one you describe, and it's plainly obvious too because that message cascades.

          If nothing was dependent upon the cell that you made the error in, then the reader will simply see whatever the person typed, and it isn't excel's job to second guess that unless you tell it otherwise (namely by using the data validation options) otherwise you'd have to deal with a maj

          • Maybe it's version dependent, but I've had that kind of error with data that's been copy-pasted or exported from other systems, and even using the functions to clean it ( trim()? ... it was a while ago) didn't work.

            Or take a look at item 67 here. http://www.eusprig.org/stories.htm [eusprig.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I fully expect the budget of Washington State to BSOD.

  • Hopefully they do better with their Mortgage-backed Securities....
  • Proprietary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by puddingebola (2036796)
    The budget will be proprietary, only render correctly in Internet Explorer, and include Microsft Bob to help explain the loss of state revenue.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by jamstar7 (694492)
      Cue Clippy saying 'I see you are trying to balance the state budget. Would you like some help stealing those billions for yourself?'
  • But isn't there something just a little wrong with the idea that there are morally no limits to what the State can extract from a for-profit corporation?

    I realize Microsoft is a powerful corp, etc, etc, and that they can handle losing more more money to the State. That's not the point. I'm concerned about the relationship between the shareholders of Microsoft and the State. Who serves whom?

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @09:27AM (#43566663) Homepage Journal

      But isn't there something just a little wrong with the idea that there are morally no limits to what the State can extract from a for-profit corporation?

      You have that exactly backwards.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You have that exactly backwards.

        And what do these corporations extract from the state? I'm sure they benefit from some services, but an examination of government budgets shows that the bulk of money now spent by governments amounts to forced charity or transfers of money.

        The typical things we think of like police, courts, etc, make up a very small portion of money spent by the State.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          And what do these corporations extract from the state?

          Their existence is entirely state derived. If limited liability isn't worth paying whatever price the state demands for it then the owners can always do without it.

    • But isn't there something just a little wrong with the idea that there are morally no limits to what the State can extract from a for-profit corporation?

      Well, if Microsoft doesn't like the taxes it has to pay there, it can easily go elsewhere. I don't see the big difference to a land owner demanding rent from anyone using the land.

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        Well, if Microsoft doesn't like the taxes it has to pay there, it can easily go elsewhere.

        They did: they opened an office in Nevada and are selling the software from there. How is (not) paying taxes in Nevada any more arbitrary than paying taxes in Washington? The majority of Microsoft's employees aren't located in Washington State.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Limited liability corporations are an artificial creation of the state. The shareholders have been granted a massive privilege: the opportunity to make money with no liability for wrongdoing, however egregious. There is absolutely no problem with the state taxing the recipients of that massive privilege. If they don't like it, they can put aside the liability protections and work as, for example, a partnership.

      • The shareholders have been granted a massive privilege: the opportunity to make money with no liability for wrongdoing

        I don't think you understand what limited liability means.

        • by jamstar7 (694492)

          The shareholders have been granted a massive privilege: the opportunity to make money with no liability for wrongdoing

          I don't think you understand what limited liability means.

          Actually, I think he does. When you incorporate as an LLC and something catastrophic happens, the LLC is nailed and likely killed while the owners remain relatively untouched.

          • Yes, only the assets and time they've invested in the LLC are subject to loss. That's why it's limited - you risk what you're putting into it, and everything it's made as well. Your other personal assets are not subject to loss... But there's still a lot on the line.
    • by jamstar7 (694492)

      But isn't there something just a little wrong with the idea that there are morally no limits to what the State can extract from a for-profit corporation?

      I'm thinking it's the other way around. Microsoft and most if not all corporations try to hide as much taxable income as they can. Microsoft is famous for this. So where does this 'extraction' by the State happen?

  • And you guys are somehow making this into a bad thing. It's laughable that apparently they've been using paper before.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      as long as they still keep a paper trail ... since we all know that state electronic communications are always properly backed up and will remain accessible for hundreds of years (well, that and excel really shines at history tracking and debugging someone else's spreadsheet errors) /s

    • The bad thing isn't that they demand files. The bad thing is that they demand Excel files.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Exactly. All government finances should be required to be run through Google Docs!

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Actually, they should. And they should be publicly viewable with no option to restrict sharing.

  • by seven of five (578993) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @09:25AM (#43566649) Homepage
    Open up that checkbook, Bill.
  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @09:27AM (#43566659)
    First, they learn about lobbying. Then, what they learn in lobbying is that greasing the wheel requires either
    a - hiring some politico's kid, niece, girlfriend, cousin, dad, mistress (what's the male version of mistress?), or such
    b - hiring some politico's flunky as soon as they leave office to teach you how to reach the politico or to give you special access to former coworkers
    c - hiring some politico when they leave office

    Then, they figure out that instead of hiring at the end of the cycle, why not embed somebody in directly at the beginning of the cycle? Have current or recently current employees run for office, and also looking out for the best interests of their employer / former employer.
    .
    Next, they figure out how to do all of this at a lower cost. Easy ways to lower cost:

    - decrease tax liability
    - - decrease taxes
    - - increase credits for employment, etc
    - increase profits
    - - require your software to be purchased
    - - make your software a de facto requirement for even transacting business with the government
    - - make tax rules in your favor

    Why pay for the hamsters to run on the wheel when you can own the hamsters yourself? [can you tell that ihashhasst? : i have a seventies hippy history and social-sciences teacher]

    • by tqk (413719)

      what's the male version of mistress?

      "Giggolo" or "Cabana Boy." Of course, "Employee" and "Taxpayer" work if you need gender neutral.

  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @09:37AM (#43566745)
    The real article about the "dance tax" in Washington is at http://jeffreifman.com/2013/04/12/seattle-dance-clubs-fundraise-to-pay-microsofts-tax-bill/ [jeffreifman.com] , whereas this /. article only links to the boingboing article which then links to the dance tax article. The short version: washington caves to ms and allows them to bail on 1.5 billion (BILLION!!!!) dollars in tax liability, then it goes on a crusade to nickel-and-dime other businesses for obscure tiny laws like
    providing the "opportunity to dance", proven by yelp postings that "people like to dance here" or by obituaries that mention that XYZ "liked to dance at $geoloc".

    In other words, the rich get to write the laws (or fund the writing of laws, wink, wink) that allow them to avoid taxes whilst the poor (or relatively poor-er) get told to pay higher taxes. Sounds like the republican platform has taken over all of washington state to me.

    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      So nothing has changed. Before MS it was Boeing. Before them it was Weyerhaeuser. Before them it was the railroads. No different than any other state.
  • So it looks like you're trying to do a budget....
    • by tqk (413719)

      So it looks like you're trying to do a budget....

      Well, that's a bit ambiguous. Which did you mean:

      i) "... and it'd be a shame if anything happened to it."

      ii) Clippy.

  • ... that when funding runs out in April, because of an Excel error, the kindergartener's whiteboards will all go BSOD?
  • by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @10:21AM (#43567051)

    Why should Washington State get 1.5% of royalties from Microsoft? What costs do royalties impose on the state? What is the state providing in return that contributes to those royalties?

    Why not some other state? Tons of people around the world have contributed to Microsoft's products and royalties; why shouldn't the places they live get a cut? And if it's as arbitrary as it is, what's wrong if Microsoft arbitrarily moves its location to Nevada or anywhere else?

    Remember that that money is going to be used either as a business expense, or it is going to be taxed as capital gains or salaries anyway.

  • "Senator Andy Hill is 'the first Senate budget chair ever to request Excel files instead of paper spreadsheets.'"

    Please tell me this is a joke. Sure, bash Microsoft and Excel all you want.... But how the hell did they plan the budget before this?

  • We are now letting companies directly write laws instead of simply bribing elected officials.

    Of course the Washington state senators know that the Microsoft guys will only be looking to protect their own interests. But Microsoft officially owns Washington state, they can simply threaten to move billions of dollars of taxpayers out of state if they do not bend over and do whatever Microsoft says.

  • by bytesex (112972) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @01:26PM (#43568279) Homepage

    I had the pleasure of working with Windows 7 a week ago, on the rare occasion I had to set up a demonstration on a netbook. Hadn't seriously touched windows since.. I don't know. Probably NT. And it *still* is a toy-OS.

  • by mschuyler (197441) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @01:49PM (#43568423) Homepage Journal

    It's ludicrous to claim that because of Microsoft "tax breaks" the state of Washington faces cuts. Washington does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. From 1999 to 2009 the state budget increased 80%. Inflation and population growth combined was 39%. I don't know anyone who can even point to an increase in services provided by the state today compared to 1999. If they had been prudent in their spending they could have accounted for inflation and population growth with half the increase they did.

    How did this happen? Lots of special interests, of course, but the basic fuel was sales taxes, which people don't really notice. When people were buying new cars the money rolled in and the state spent it. When the recession hit people cut back spending and suddenly the gravy train of sales taxes slowed to a trickle.

    Now the state wants to tax everything because it's "for the children." They're looking for scapegoats and Microsoft is a nice big one to blame. It already has one of the highest sales taxes and gas taxes in the nation. It's a liberal tax and spend state.

    But hey. If you want to move where the welfare payments are pretty good, move to Washington, a place where "undocumented aliens" get in-state tuition and help. With policies like Washington it won't be long before this place looks like Detroit.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Typical right wing response. Every time the rich evade lots of taxes everybody else has a "spending problem", as if that excuses the behavior.

      Issues of spending may be legitimate, but are separate from the subject of tax cheats.

      • by mschuyler (197441)

        Typical left wing response. It is a FACT that spending increased twice as fast as inflation and population growth. You cannot explain that away.

    • +1 informative. This state is suffering from out of control spending fueled by special interest projects. Grrr
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      are you denying the tax breaks happened or not? I'm confused. giving tax breaks is as good as spending in the situation too though, so the special interest group of MS would count.

      • Tax breaks are legal, are they not? Revenues to the State are up over 60% since 1999, quite a bit more than inflation plus population growth. Spending is way out of line. That's the problem. It's not a revenue problem, and it's not a number-of-consumers problem (demand - inflation plus population growth). It's a spending/Government pork ladle problem.
  • just like the guy from Monsanto working for the FDA, and the guy from General Electric working as Obama's Job Tzar, it isnt anything new, the revolving door of crony/fascism has been going on between the private sector and govt for a long long time
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • We legalized weed in Washington State. Now we need more money? Start selling it.

    Granted I have a great dealer and I'd probably never buy any weed from you, but I'm pretty sure there is a ton of people who would. Get selling bitches!

You know that feeling when you're leaning back on a stool and it starts to tip over? Well, that's how I feel all the time. -- Steven Wright

Working...