Dear Friends and Neighbors,
*** Special Session Update ***
The last revenue forecast in November showed both an unexpected increase in certain caseloads and a decrease in incoming state revenues. It was then determined that our state is facing a $1.1 billion shortfall for the remainder of the 2009-2011 biennium which ends June 30, of next year. While the specter of a potential $5.7 billion budget shortfall for the next biennium looms large – and will undoubtedly be the focus of the upcoming legislative session in 2011 – the more immediate emergency is to make corrective actions to come up with $1.1 billion in savings between now and the end of June.
I wanted to let you know that Gov. Gregoire has finally agreed to call the Legislature into a special session to deal quickly with this escalating projected budget deficit. As of now, the plan is to go into a special session on Saturday and be done with it in one day. There is a tentative agreement between the leaders of the four caucuses and the governor's office to come up with about $700 million in savings. While this won't fix the entire $1.1 billion problem, it is a good start and gets us going in the right direction. Every month we wait to implement long-term solutions addressing the immediate budget crisis costs taxpayers over $250 million in lost savings!
As families and small businesses have had to prioritize spending and readjust expectations, so must state government. While our message of a smaller, more efficient state government that takes care of the most vulnerable has fallen on deaf ears in the Legislature in the past, it seems that now, our voice is finally starting to be heard. The decisions we make during this one-day special session will be difficult. But they begin to lay the foundation for the vision we have for a different Washington.
I will continue to send you updates throughout this next session. And as always, please feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns. I value your input and look forward to hearing from you.