What is in store for the upcoming 2012 Session of the Washington State Legislature can be summed up in just two words – budget deficit.
How many cuts and where? Are new taxes (and/or a new tax package heading to the voters) on the table to help solve the problem? What are the State’s top budgetary priorities? These will be the questions on most everyone’s mind.
The 2011-2013 biennial budget that was adopted earlier this year by the Legislature totaled $32.2 billion and took effect July 1, 2011. Since then however, revenue projections fell to $30.5 billion in mid-September. And an additional $122 million revenue shortfall was added by the most recent forecast, bringing the total revenue projection to $30.4 billion.
Governor Gregoire put forth her first recommended cuts in October. The Governor released her revised proposed budget based upon the November revenue forecast and the caseload changes. They can be found at this link. She worked with agency directors to identify expenditure reductions in addition to the 5% and 10% reduction options submitted by agencies last month.
As the Special Session ended in mid-December , legislators cut an estimated $480 Million from the $2 Billion starting point. A summary of these budget changes can be found at this link.
Those who participate in the legislative process will be earnestly looking toward the 60-day 2012 Regular Session, which begins on January 9th to make up the additional deficit of $1.5 Billion. The Special Session in December provided and the Regular Session, which runs from January 9 through March 8, 2012, will provide the Legislature with its opportunity to further respond to the Governor’s proposed budget changes. Legislators will address the estimated $1.5 billion deficit from their points of view and with their priorities in mind.
By Guest Author, Michael Transue, Attorney at Law, Governmental Affairs and Lobbying Services