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Governor's office asks Legislature to hurry up
Posted by Andrew Garber
The governor's office is pleading with lawmakers to get a move on and start making tough budget decisions.
Marty Brown, the governor's budget director, sent a letter to legislators in the House and Senate on Monday warning that the state budget could sink deeper into a hole if they don't act quickly.
The Legislature started a 30-day special session a week ago to deal with a $2 billion budget shortfall. However, Democratic leaders in both chambers have made it clear they don't expect to actually finish writing a budget during the special session.
Brown laid out some of the consequences of delay:
"Our state government spends about $41 million a day. Every day that goes by, we can't get that money back. Your state agencies need time to put into effect the policy and budget changes that affect clients and providers all over the state.
"Faced with all this, I do want to say that time is of the essence. Many of the savings assumptions in the Governor's proposals are based upon January implementation dates. If we go to February or later our assumed savings drop and other more difficult decisions need to be made."
You can read the full letter on the jump.
Members of the Legislature:
Many of you know that I worked for nearly 20 years as a legislative committee staff member, on caucus staff and in legislative administration. I have worked with most of you and very closely with two Governors as budget director and know how seriously you take your responsibilities. I know that all of us, elected officials and staff, want what is best for the people of Washington. We know that the numbers in the budget represent real people who need services. We also know that we can't afford all the services we are currently providing right now.
During my time on legislative staff, I worked with members to cut budgets, craft revenue proposals and even helped draft the state lottery during the recession in the early 1980's. I can't say I fully understand how gut-wrenching the decisions you have to make are because I have never run for office or faced the voters following these decisions. What you are doing right now is hard. Having helped the Governor with her decisions I have a good idea what is in front of you and it is daunting.
When I served as legislative staff, I always thought after the budget was adopted it was over and done with. I was wrong. Now I've spent nearly 15 years in the executive branch and know how hard it can be to implement the decisions made in an adopted budget. Our state government spends about $41 million a day. Every day that goes by, we can't get that money back. Your state agencies need time to put into effect the policy and budget changes that affect clients and providers all over the state.
Faced with all this, I do want to say that time is of the essence. Many of the savings assumptions in the Governor's proposals are based upon January implementation dates. If we go to February or later our assumed savings drop and other more difficult decisions need to be made. I intended to make some of these points in my testimony earlier this week but circumstances prevented it.
My staff and I are always available to help if needed. Thank you for your service in these very difficult times.
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