Gov. Chris Gregoire and our Legislature have now begun a special session to deal with their projected $2 billion deficit. They keep being wrong because they don’t get it.
Our nation’s economy grew at more than 4 percent for many years. It grew faster than developed countries generally do. It was done with leverage and more leverage. We were capitalism on steroids.
Those days are now over. We will now see a 1 or 2 percent growth rate if we are lucky. This is “the new normal.” We don’t need a temporary sales tax increase. We need a budget that is real and that can be paid for with existing revenues from a slower-growing economy.
It will mean that schools need to be consolidated and teachers need to be laid off. It means that other government workers and programs need to be downsized. We simply cannot afford the size of government that Gregoire has given us.
It was fun for Gregoire to expand government and give everyone raises in the good times. Now is the hard part. Now is the time when she needs to help Washington to get real again.
Unfortunately, to do it right, she will have to be prepared for Olympia to look like Madison, Wis., did last summer. She must either do what she was paid to do or let a new leader handle it.
This pain will happen. It is now time for our government to reflect the growth rate of “the new normal.”