Dear 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.
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.
Budget talks have continued for the last three weeks in all caucuses and now all the rumors all flying around with great velocity and numbers. Olympia is a place where one person says something; another tells what they heard – and all of a sudden from a reliable source we have facts based on nothing! I suspect that sometime next week, budgets will start appearing for the public to see. Again, a guess on my part (another one of the rumors) – see I listen to them also.