July 27, 2020
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Washington Research Council policy brief: Delaying budget action would deepen the pain

Cuts to balance the budget would be much more palatable if made now in a special session, rather than waiting until next year's legislative session. That's the conclusion of a new policy brief from the Washington Research Council (WRC).

The nonpartisan Office of Program Research, in an unofficial budget outlook, estimates that the unrestricted ending balance of funds subject to the outlook will be negative $3.4 billion in 2019-21 and negative $8.5 billion in 2021-23.

"Despite these dire projections, Gov. Inslee says he has no plans to call the Legislature into a special session," the report notes.

Depending on how many budget areas are subject to spending cuts, the WRC estimate that necessary cuts could be from 8.8 percent to 28.2 percent if the Legislature waits until the regular session to address the shortfall.

Had the Legislature acted in June, the necessary reductions would have ranged from 2.9 percent to 9.4 percent. The same concept applies to tax increases: To reach a target level of collections, a tax rate would need to be higher if applied over a shorter period.

"Gov. Inslee and legislative leaders appear poised to use all available one-time funding sources to patch together the current biennial budget without regard for the significant looming shortfalls in subsequent biennia," the WRC concludes. "The Legislature should act sooner than later to enact a new budget that is sustainable within current resources and that balances over four years."

Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Tommy Gantz to learn more.

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Stay Safe Washington
Prepare for Post-Pandemic Life

When the mills close, what's next?

By Mac Alexander Macdonald

What do communities do when their chief sources of income evaporate?

"Re-galvanize and reinvent," says Marc Abshire, executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce. But what can we do as citizens to contribute to making this a place where industry wants to locate? What will people in the future want to purchase or acquire, and then how do we attract those companies, while nurturing the businesses we currently have? Complacency is not an option, and neither is hope alone.

For a company to partner with an area, it needs a ready and ample workforce. Are people being trained for the skills needed? Will enough housing be available? Will company executives and workers feel comfortable having their medical needs met? Will all employees feel comfortable having their kids educated in the local schools?

Robert Duvall's second famous line in the movie "Apocalypse Now" was, "Someday this war is going to end." Someday this pandemic will be over, so we need to prepare now. Communities like mine need to lay aside rivalries and attract passengers to their future train. It has been well quoted: When the time for action arrives, the time for preparation has passed.

Read the full guest column in The Seattle Times