Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature passed a “partial budget solution” this week and has adjourned until the 2012 regular session which begins in January. While I'm frustrated that the Legislature was unable to arrive at a consensus for a complete solution of our state's projected $2 billion shortfall, I am encouraged that majority party budget writers were able to take a small step toward getting our state's spending back in line with revenues.
The initial proposal for the partial budget solution amounted to about $400 million. Through the input and suggestions from House Republican budget negotiators, we were able to add about $80 million to bring the total early action items up to $480 million. I voted in favor of the budget measures and I'm thankful the Legislature took this first small step in the right direction, but we obviously have a lot more to do come January.
I thought you might find it interesting to read what other papers around the state are saying, so I've included a few excerpts below. Some of them are a little harsh, but it's hard to blame them. Click on the titles to read the entire articles:
The governor is a Democrat. The state House of Representatives and the Senate are run by Democrats. They'll defer the tough decisions to the regular session, when biennial budgets are usually tinkered with at leisure. Meanwhile, state government will be bleeding money that will make the ultimate pain that much greater. Ultimately, the people in charge must act like they're in charge. As a group, the Legislature's Democrats this month have acted as if the government of Washington was somebody else's problem. (Tacoma News Tribune, 12/14/11)
The Washington Legislature had more than a month's notice that Gov. Chris Gregoire was calling a special session to deal with yet another budget shortfall. Not that a month's fair warning did much good. The Democratic-controlled House and Senate are displaying little sense of urgency as the special session rolls toward the end of its second week with little to show for it. Legislators should heed the bipartisan admonitions of Hinkle and Brown. They need get off the dime and start dealing with the dollars. (Yakima Herald-Republic, 12/7/11)
How about Democrats adopt a more modern attitude toward a list of reforms in education and health care and declare the emergency required to reopen and rejigger employee contracts to reflect a new economic normal? Democrats need to stop seeing a potential tax increase as a panacea and immediately get on board with long-term reforms that put the state on solid footing for the undeniable reset of continued reduced revenue. (Seattle Times, 12/1/11)
I sincerely appreciate hearing from you throughout the year. Your guidance and ideas that you bring forth, help me in serving you in Olympia. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.