The Washington State Legislature will begin its session on January 11, 2010. This session will be short (60-days) and will focus on trying to overhaul the biennium budget, which currently has a $2.6 billion hole.
At this point, legislators are attempting to find solutions to filling the gap through cuts or new taxes, or a combination of both. While no immediate solutions have garnered support, it can be safe to assume that all are hoping for a recovered economy to help improve the proceedings in Olympia next year and especially when the legislature meets in 2011 to determine its next 2-year budget.
Until then, the legislators will be pondering how to devise a budget that makes steep cuts in health care, human services and education without impacting the users of those services. The alternative to those sharp cuts would be raising revenue through taxes, an action no elected official wants to take during an election year. It is most likely that a combination of those two approaches will be taken.
The Chamber will be working in Olympia to monitor and fend off tax increases that would harm or hinder businesses and job creation. The Chamber will also be conducting its annual “lunch with legislators” sometime in February. If you wish to attend, please go on-line later in January to register at www.tacomachamber.org.