Friends and Neighbors,
Last week the state's Economic and Revenue Forecast Council issued an updated forecast that shows the state is expected to take in about $780 million less in revenues over the next two years. The latest drop in revenue was mitigated slightly by good news in a caseload forecast but still brings our expected budget shortfall for the 2011-13 biennium to around $5.1 billion dollars. This disappointing news clearly illustrates why the Legislature must remain focused on getting Washington working again.
To see a video of my comments at the meeting, click here and scroll the timer forward to 56:45.
If you'd like to listen to me discuss the revenue forecast on KOMO's Ken Schram Show, click here.
Or, if you'd like to read my press release on the forecast, click here.
I believe the sooner we get people working again, the sooner we will see an increase in state revenues WITHOUT raising your taxes. Faced with a $5.1 billion dollar budget shortfall, we must adopt a responsible, sustainable operating budget within the 105-day session which is scheduled to end on April 24. If we don't finish our work on time it will cost taxpayers about $20,000 every day the Legislature remains in Olympia for a special session – money that would be better spent on funding important priorities like education, public safety or services for our most vulnerable citizens.
It is disappointing to me that substantive work on the budget hasn't already been started. Legislators have known about $4.6 billion of the budget shortfall since November, and this drop in revenue should not have surprised anyone.
As I've mentioned in the past, I would have preferred more immediate action in order to address our budget shortfall. Now we are two-thirds of the way through the 2011 session, yet no real budget action has occurred. In fact, the current budget isn't even balanced yet! That's unacceptable.
I've always believed the sooner we act to balance the budget, the better. Hopefully, budget writers in the majority party will have something for us later this week or next. I'll keep my fingers crossed and you posted.