Columbian editorial urges governor and legislators to fix Hirst and pass a capital budget

The Columbian editorial board writes that Gov. Inslee and state legislators must quickly come together to solve the year’s unfinished legislative business: adopting a capital budget and fixing Hirst. 

Eventually, a special session will need to be called by Gov. Jay Inslee in order to iron out two lingering wrinkles from this year’s session — passage of a capital budget, and a fix to the state Supreme Court ruling known as the Hirst decision. At stake is an impact of billions of dollars to the economy; at question is a frustrating impasse that is threatening to overshadow the successes of the legislative session.

Republicans have declined to consider the capital budget until Democrats agree to fix the Hirst ruling, which Democrats are declining to address until the capital budget is passed … around and around they go.

We’re also mindful of the need for action on these two issues. The Columbian references the economic impact study we wrote about last week. The editorial states,

That study claims the Hirst ruling will result in the loss of $6.9 billion in economic activity annually, primarily in rural areas. It also quantifies missed opportunities to grow the tax base, create jobs, and generate construction funding…

While any study must be viewed with scrutiny, this one is eye-opening. Even if the assumptions in the analysis are exaggerated, if the Hirst decision costs the state, say, $3 billion annually in economic activity, would that be acceptable? Of course not, especially in rural areas that are desperate for economic boost.

Right. Even if the numbers are off a bit – and the assumptions and equations that go into economic analysis can always be questioned – the big picture conclusion survives: the cost of failing to fix the Hirst decision are dramatic, particularly in the most impacted rural communities.

The Columbian also points out the costs of failure to fund the capital budget, for which their is widespread, bipartisan support. The agreed-upon budget is about $4 billion for school construction, parks, public facilities, and other projects important to communities around the state. 

Finally, the editorial concludes:

The state needs a capital budget, and it needs a fix to the Hirst decision. To help facilitate that, it needs Gov. Inslee’s office to get involved in the negotiations — as recommended by Republican leaders. Every day the impasse lingers is a costly one for Washingtonians.