Predicted $9 billion revenue loss affirms need for June special session, Republican leaders say

Jun 17, 2020

OLYMPIA…Senate Republican leaders today repeated their call for a June special session of the Legislature now that Washington’s chief economist has predicted a $9 billion loss in state-government revenue over the next three years.

From Sen. John Braun of Centralia, who serves the state’s 20th Legislative District:

“This forecast confirms there are about a billion reasons to meet in special session right away instead of waiting. The Legislature still has time to pull back on all the new spending commitments that are scheduled to take effect July 1, and free up about a billion dollars that would be put toward maintaining critical services instead. People have had their lives disrupted enough as it is these past few months. In a matter of days we can take steps to avoid actual budget cuts and prevent even more disruption that would take years to overcome.”

“Some of my colleagues are resisting the idea of meeting this month in hopes that the federal government will come through with more money later this summer. That’s a gamble we should not take, especially when it could jeopardize services that are so important to vulnerable communities across our state. The focus needs to be on letting go of new programs this month, before they start, in favor of maintaining the programs already in place. Today’s forecast affirms the need to take action now.”

From Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville, who serves Washington’s 9th District:

“Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the hundreds of millions lost by the Employment Security Department and the hundreds of millions that won’t be collected through the unconstitutional tax on banks, some big holes have been blown in the state’s financial picture. The Legislature has the ultimate control over the budget, yet Governor Inslee has chosen to keep us from stepping in – even though the executive and legislative branches are co-equal under our constitution, and we directly represent the people who have endured his response to the pandemic.

“So far he’s refused to call a special session on the grounds that no one has brought him a plan that would win support from a majority of the Legislature and get his signature. That argument falls short coming from the same governor who shut the state down without first having a plan for reopening it.

“There is a price to pay for inaction. I know from dealing with past deficits that for every dollar you save in June, you avoid having to find $1.50 in savings come January. Surely the governor knows that too. I can’t imagine why he would prevent the Legislature from taking action now, even though we have time, knowing it’s likely to force harder decisions down the road.”