Sunday, September 25, 2011

WA Special Session on the Table

$1.3 billion.

In today’s budget numbers, at least on a national scale, that figure is not overwhelming, but on a state scale it is a crippling figure.

Due to continued slow economy Washington State revenue is expected to fall $1.3 billion short of projection, necessitating another round of budget cuts. This is after over $4.6 billion was cut from last year’s budget (WA works on a two-year budget cycle).

Governor Christine Gregoire is going to formally call for a special session of the state legislature to address this looming crisis,

Gregoire budget director Marty Brown said the governor is still finalizing the details of the session but will make a formal announcement Thursday morning. He and spokesman Cory Curtis said it is likely to begin at the end of November – after the state gets a new revenue forecast.

State officials projected last week that the state faces a $1.3 billion shortfall in the current budget cycle because economic conditions have not improved as initially anticipated, and that’s if the Legislature drains a rainy day fund and leaves no money left as a buffer. Lawmakers have talked about the need to prepare $2 billion worth of changes in a roughly $30 billion budget. (Source: Seattle PI)

The last round of budget cuts hit education and social services very hard and there may be little wiggle room this time around with out causing significant pain. GOP lawmakers have vowed to fight any tax increases, and while they are in the minority, the voter-approved need for a 2/3 majority to increase taxes works in their favor.

I foresee another round of very tough budget calls and more pain for nearly everyone in the state. While I certainly hope that taxes stay off the table, there appears to be a growing momentum for a raise in taxes.

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