Seattle Courant

Washington State Legislature and the $6 Billion Deficit

By Keith Vance
January 6, 2009 10:01PM

Now that the holiday season is behind us, lawsuits are being hurled at the governor over the budget she sent to the legislature last month. Gregoire was supposed to speak with the Olympia press this morning, but yesterday her staff canceled and wouldn't say why the governor dropped out of the Associated Press' annual legislative session preview, nor would they even say where she was.

Governor Gregoire's in an undisclosed location and the state faces at least a $6 billion budget deficit.

Actually Gregoire turned out to be in Iraq visiting National Guard troops, perhaps tired of talking to reporters already.

Fortunately not all of our politicians are hiding out in Iraq. Several senators and representatives took questions today about what should be done to overcome the nearly $6 billion budget deficit. No one had any answers.

"The budget will dominate the session," Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane said. "It could get worse before it gets better."

Republicans were quick to point the finger at the Democrats who they claim created the current economic mess through unchecked spending which Republican Mike Hewitt said is not sustainable. To "stop the bleeding" Hewitt said that spending has to be slashed.

Not all of the Democrats got that memo though. House Speaker Frank Chopp is still talking about providing health care to all children by 2010 with a program called Apple Health for Kids.

The legislators were short on details today but they all agreed that no matter how much money President Obama delivers to the state, Washingtonians are facing tough choices that could lead to deep cuts in services and possibly a tax increase.