The Walla Walla Union Bulletin joins the ranks of major state daily newspapers calling for a special session of the Legislature to tackle the state budget shortfall. On Monday we linked to The News Tribune’s editorial making a similar case.
The U-B editorial says,
Frustration continues to grow over the failure of Gov. Jay Inslee and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to fully address the state government’s COVID-19-induced budget shortfall — now projected to be close to $9 billion over their next three years.
As each day passes, it will be far more difficult — and financially painful — to balance the budget.
The editorial cites a Washington Research Council analysis that we’ve discussed before.
The Washington Research Council, a Seattle-based organization that provides public policy analysis of economic impacts to the state, concludes that if the Legislature had met in June cuts to state spending could have been as low 2.9% and up to 9.4%. But if lawmakers wait until next year to address the budget hole, the spending cuts could go as deep as 28.2%.
The U-B editorial reviews the lawmakers’ primary argument for delay – waiting for the next federal stimulus package – and finds it lacking.
We don’t see a federal bailout for states happening soon. It’s not a federal priority right now.
The editorial concludes,
While this is not a particularly convenient time for our elected state legislators to go into a special session as it’s now election season (voting starts on Oct. 16), that should not be an excuse for them shirking their duty as House and Senate members.
Each day closer to the election will be even less convenient, and the budget gap will grow wider and wider.
Inslee can’t wait until January to stop the fiscal hemorrhaging. Cuts to spending need to made as soon as possible to avert a disaster in 2021 and beyond.