Will COVID-19 force a Special Session?

Apr 2, 2020
Written by Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs

As the virus continues to spread and more and more businesses and their employees are put in jeopardy, it begs the question about whether Washington State needs to do more to protect our citizens and the economy.

In the waning days of the 2020 Legislative Session, the Legislature and Governor passed a $200 million COVID-19 response package. It originally started as a $100 million proposal and doubled quickly as the magnitude of the problem ballooned.

But is it enough?

As we watched Congress and the President pass a $2 trillion CARES – stimulus package to keep the economy afloat just last week – our state legislature may be forced to return to Olympia – possibly virtually – to increase the response.

In our “rainy day” account we have more than $800 million. Some would say it doesn’t get any stormier than this. Maybe we need to tap into that account.

Additionally, as the Governor is contemplating signing the 2020 state supplemental budget, he has to be thinking about appropriations that can be put on hold or eliminated during this crisis so we can focus our attention on essential spending. Saving money today will lead to less drastic measures in 2021 when the Legislature returns to Olympia to write a new operating budget.

Tough decisions lie ahead – these are challenging times. I would not be surprised if we hear the call for a special session to further combat this enemy that has crippled our state, its citizens and its businesses.