Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire will call a spe­cial ses­sion of the Leg­is­la­ture begin­ning the Mon­day after Thanks­giv­ing to deal with Wash­ing­ton’s lat­est rev­enue short­fall, her office con­firmed this morn­ing. The ses­sion could go for as long as thir­ty days.

“Con­gres­sion­al grid­lock, the Euro­pean debt cri­sis and high unem­ploy­ment con­tin­ue to take their toll on con­sumer con­fi­dence and our state’s econ­o­my,” Gre­goire said in a state­ment. “Once again, we are fac­ing a bud­get short­fall and once again I’m call­ing the Leg­is­la­ture back into spe­cial ses­sion to address the state’s budget.”

“My only option is across-the-board cuts, and that option is unac­cept­able. Solv­ing this bud­get cri­sis will require the Leg­is­la­ture to act.”

“We are com­mit­ted to mak­ing the most of the com­ing weeks to help find solu­tions,” Sen­ate Major­i­ty Lisa Leader Lisa Brown and Sen­a­tor Ed Mur­ray said in a joint state­ment. “Before we reach a spe­cial ses­sion, we will work with the gov­er­nor as she devel­ops an ini­tial pro­pos­al to bridge the bud­get gap.”

“And we will con­tin­ue to review alter­na­tives and engage with our Repub­li­can col­leagues as we seek respon­si­ble actions to bal­ance our budget.”

“Over three years, we have reduced pub­lic ser­vice lev­els across the board, from sup­port for kinder­garten edu­ca­tion to super­vi­sion of offend­ers in our com­mu­ni­ties,” they con­tin­ued. “As we approach spe­cial ses­sion, we must rec­og­nize that more cuts – how­ev­er nec­es­sary math­e­mat­i­cal­ly – will impact Wash­ing­to­ni­ans, their fam­i­lies and their communities.”

“As leg­is­la­tors, we have many tools for bal­anc­ing our bud­get – includ­ing giv­ing the vot­ers the option of approv­ing new rev­enue to pay for the ser­vices they want. We strong­ly encour­age our col­leagues in both par­ties, in the House and Sen­ate, to avoid draw­ing lines in the sand and instead to arrive in Olympia in Novem­ber pre­pared to offer solu­tions and to be ready to dis­cuss all the possibilities.”

The same point was made by Jay Inslee, who hopes to suc­ceed Chris Gre­goire as gov­er­nor begin­ning in Jan­u­ary 2013.

“Our state bud­get has been bat­tered by this reces­sion, $10 bil­lion has already been cut – more than $1.5 bil­lion out of edu­ca­tion just last ses­sion,” Inslee said.

“Our chil­dren can’t afford it. Our par­ents can’t afford it. Our state’s future can’t afford it. We know edu­ca­tion is the key to job growth in this state.”

He added, “I hope the leg­is­la­ture seri­ous­ly address­es the ques­tions about how we put our­selves on a long-term path to eco­nom­ic recov­ery and how to pre­serve pri­or­i­ties like edu­ca­tion that cre­ate eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty, and make respon­si­ble invest­ments in our fam­i­lies and future. There are still options for the Leg­is­la­ture to pur­sue includ­ing find­ing sav­ings by clos­ing inef­fec­tive cor­po­rate tax loop­holes, such as the exemp­tion for out-of-state banks.”

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Ini­tia­tive 1053 uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly pre­vents our leg­is­la­tors from using a bal­anced approach to respond to this cri­sis. It only takes fifty one rep­re­sen­ta­tives and twen­ty five sen­a­tors to agree to evis­cer­ate ser­vices, but it takes six­ty five rep­re­sen­ta­tives and thir­ty two sen­a­tors to agree to save pub­lic ser­vices by rais­ing rev­enue. That’s wrong, and that needs to be changed.

There is a law­suit pend­ing in King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court that seeks to inval­i­date Ini­tia­tive 1053, but that suit is unlike­ly to be decid­ed before the spe­cial ses­sion. Even if the court struck I‑1053 down, the deci­sion would undoubt­ed­ly be appealed to the state Supreme Court, which won’t be in a hur­ry to resolve the mat­ter. The last three times the Supreme Court has had the chance to declare I‑1053’s pre­de­ces­sors uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, it passed. It did­n’t issue an opin­ion on the mer­its of the case. The jus­tices sim­ply did a duck dive instead.

I‑1053 is chok­ing our com­mon wealth and our pub­lic ser­vices. We need to destroy I‑1053 before I‑1053 destroys us. That much is clear from this lat­est rev­enue forecast.

FUTHER INFORMATION: See Per­ma­nent Defense’s response to Tim Eyman from last Fri­day (RE: Giv­en the state’s lat­est rev­enue fore­cast.…)

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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