This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.
State lawmakers who thought they’d never live to see a session as ugly as this year’s may well be proved wrong.
Washingtonians aren’t in a spending mood, and that has led to what Arun Raha, the state’s chief economist, calls a “revenue-less recovery” from the recession. An additional $760 million has evaporated from projected revenue collections, and the state now expects to be $2.6 billion in the red.
That might seem like next to nothing compared to the $9 billion gap the Legislature stared down earlier this year, but this is one of those cases when appearances are deceiving.
Lawmakers have less time, fewer options and a much smaller shot at getting federal bailout dollars to plug this hole. The last infusion of federal aid is actually part of the current problem: It helped balance the budget, but it also prevents budget writers from cutting some key programs.
What to do, except buy Raha a new crystal ball and pray Washingtonians suddenly become shopaholics?