Thursday, December 02, 2010

Why Won't Gregoire Force The Legislature To Deal With The Budget?

In spite of dire budget warnings for almost a year now from the Governor — and a crystal clear message from the voters — the State Legislature has adamantly refused to deal with what has become a major crisis, the looming $5.7 billion revenue shortfall. And while lawmakers will be in Olympia next week, the Democratic leadership remains uncommitted to a special session to solve the problem because the ultimate sustainable solution is going to anger their biggest supporters — state employee unions.

More than a year of warnings from business, think tanks, pundits, Republicans, political candidates from both parties, and average citizens, that the budget is unsustainable, have fallen on deaf donkey ears. The bottom line is that it appears the Democrats don't have the cojones necessary to make the hard decisions required to fix this problem.

The Senate Republican leadership responded to the Governor's call for budget recommendations and has been willing to help lay the groundwork for a special session, but the Democrats are unwilling to step up and deal with reality. However, since reality isn't enough to prompt the Legislature to take the action they were elected to, the Governor should take the bull by the horns — or in this case the ass by the ears — and force lawmakers to do their jobs.

The Governor should call a special session effective Wednesday, Dec. 8. that would be in effect for 30 days. If lawmakers refuse to quickly balance the budget, she should order large, across-the-board cuts that factor in chief budget forecaster Dr. Aram Raha's dismal take on the future of tax collections, and  have them take effect on Saturday, Dec. 11. If that doesn't get the Democrats off their butts, nothing is likely to.

If legislators don't want to get their hands dirty (and piss off the unions) by doing the job they were elected to, and still refuse to balance the budget, the least they should do in the special session is pass legislation that provides the Governor with the flexibility to make discretionary cuts (instead of across-the-board) to eliminate the projected deficit and leave a reserve.

All I can say is it's a good thing I'm not Governor. They would already be there and they would stay there as long as it took. Can you imagine a legislative session on Christmas day?

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