Today, AWB President Don Brunell is traveling to Eastern Washington to talk with AWB members and area businesses about the 2012 legislative session.
At the heart of his discussions: the need for a sustainable, long-term state budget for Washington state. Brunell was meeting with members of the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Walla Walla Rotary Club to talk about the continuing struggles of this year's Legislature and the politics that continue to delay progress on the budget.
As Brunell and other AWB members and AWB government affairs staff have advocated all session long, raising taxes isn't the solution to what ails the state budget. The right thing to is to overhaul the budget and figure out how the state can live within its means.
"Without systemic change, we face a future of ever larger deficits," wrote Brunell in a Feb. 17 column. "That's a real solution that will foster economic growth and create jobs."
This morning, the Associated Press reported lawmakers remain at an impasse despite being halfway through the special session -- and with an April 10 deadline a mere two weeks away. If they can't broker a deal, Gov. Chris Gregoire can call lawmakers back for a third special session (there was already one special session to deal with the supplemental budget back in December) or make across-the-board cuts, something she has publicly decried because of the impact on areas such as public safety.
Leaving town without a balanced budget going forward should not be an option. Forcing the next Legislature into a deficit situation only carries the problem forward.
As The Seattle Times observed Wednesday, "This is a seminal moment in state government. Legislators can fix the budget or they can pretend to fix it. In our view, legislators need to fix it for real."