Special Session should be held soon to address state budget crisis

Aug 20, 2020
Written by Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs

As sales tax revenues remain anemic during the pandemic, it would be prudent for the Legislature and Governor to convene a Special Session sooner rather than later to make the necessary spending reductions now rather than wait for the Regular Session to convene in January 2021.

Every week that goes by the state’s budget picture worsens. Predictions in July were for an $8.8 billion revenue shortfall. If tough spending choices are made now it will save money and programs in the future.

WR is concerned that if the Legislature waits until January 2021 to patch the hole, it and the Governor will turn to massive tax increases that will only hurt struggling families and faltering businesses.

Across the board cuts by state law is not the solution. It is like taking a chainsaw to a rose bush.  Many programs that can’t sustain those cuts will be damaged beyond saving and will fail or take years to recover.

The better and more thoughtful approach would be to convene the Legislature now and have a debate on where precious resources can be saved. It will be a difficult and painful discussion – but this pandemic has been a painful and prolonged nightmare. As a state we need to make the severe choices of what we can live without and what is absolutely necessary. Years ago, this was called the Priorities of Government.

WR strongly encourages the Governor and Legislature to work together now on addressing the fiscal challenges facing our state rather than letting them continue to increase to a size that will further hurt the citizens of Washington State.