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Special session coming?

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Sep. 15, 2011 at 11:53 am |
September 15, 2011 12:05 pm

It seems likely based on statements issued after $1.4 billion in predicted state revenue evaporated today.

Gov. Chris Gregoire says:

The November forecast may bring more bad news so we can’t wait until the start of session in January to take action. Today’s forecast demands that we again take action.

Republican Sen. Joseph Zarelli, who just eight days ago said “a special session isn’t the answer,” is warming to the idea:

The governor could call us into a special session before January, of course, but it would have to be productive, and that would require a lot of advance work – because the last thing anyone needs is weeks of legislative wrangling with little savings to show for it.

Senate Democratic leaders Lisa Brown and Ed Murray agree:

In the short term, we agree with Sen. Joe Zarelli, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, that we should develop a plan before we call for a special session.

Rep. Ross Hunter says: “I personally think that it’s worth taking some action early,” and his fellow House Democrats are trying to put together a package of tax revenue that the voters could decide on in spring.

House Republicans are urging quick action on both a no-new-taxes budget and on rolling back regulations. Rep. Ed Orcutt:

Budget writers in both parties and in both chambers need to be working on a budget solution now so we can have a quick one-day session as soon as possible – hopefully sometime in October.

To decide when action needs to be taken, it helps to know not only how deep state revenue will fall, but when it will fall.

Revenue forecaster Arun Raha helped answer both questions today when he lowered his predictions by $500 million for the current 2012 fiscal year and by $900 million for 2013.

Now budget writers will try to figure out just how big a problem is caused by the $500 million short-term drop and whether it requires them to come back to Olympia before January.

It’s important to remember revenues aren’t shrinking — they’re just not growing as much as predicted.

Raha expects 1.4 percent growth in 2012 from the previous year (down from his June prediction of 4.6 percent). He expects growth to be 4.5 percent in 2013 (down from his 7 percent guess in June).

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