OLYMPIA… While this year’s final forecast of state-government revenues for 2020 shows an increase of $634 million for the current two-year budget cycle, Sen. John Braun says the news masks serious concerns about the state economy that require attention from the Legislature ahead of its 2021 session.

Braun, R-Centralia, who is Republican leader on the Senate Ways and Means Committee and a member of the state Economic Revenue and Forecast Council, offered this statement after the council adopted today’s forecast:

“Sometimes a positive revenue forecast is a cause for celebration, or at least a sigh of relief, but not this time – not when so many employers and families have been set back by the governor’s throwback response to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

“Today’s forecast indicates we will no longer have to look at tapping the rainy-day fund to offset a projected budget deficit. That’s certainly helpful but it should not overshadow the concern we ought to have about the long-term health of our economy – specifically the thousands of employers across our state who have just been forced to close or severely reduce their business activity for the second time this year. Small businesses are the cornerstone of a state economy that has supported an unprecedented 40 percent in government spending over the past four years. It’s time for government to give back. The Legislature should be in a special session right now, because there are many actions we could take to help employers survive and lay the groundwork for an economic recovery next year. We can start by directing the 300 million dollars of remaining CARES funds toward the employers hit hardest by the governor’s restrictions. The regular session in January will simply be too late, and we also can’t count on additional federal help.

“In May, Republicans began making a strong case for a special legislative session. We understand what employers need if they are to have a chance of surviving the pandemic and the governor’s response to it. Instead, the governor has continued to cling to governing by proclamation and ‘guidance’ developed behind closed doors. Recently his office went so far as to deny, falsely, that we have put many ideas on the table worthy of legislative consideration. This is not how the people expect their government to function. The pandemic is clearly too large for one branch of government, and this new shutdown is causing many families to feel a bad sense of déjà vu this week. Those of us who are elected to serve the people can and should do better.”

Click here to view the TVW video of today’s council meeting.