Hello Loyal Readers,
The state government has stared into the face of oblivion . . . and blinked. With the inability of state legislators to come up with a budget after a full six months of negotiations, thousands of state workers and those whose work is connected to state workers (contractors, clients, service providers) were preparing for the worst. Without a budget, departments would swiftly shut down, but thankfully, it seems as if the House Democrats and the Republican-controlled Senate have come to some sort of agreement. As soon as I have more details about what this means for Washington, I’ll break it down for you guys.
Two issues stick out loud and clear about this whole process. First, here is a picture of the negotiating table for the state budget (hat tip Lisa McShane). Notice anything odd about it? Anything out of the ordinary or missing? Perhaps . . . the complete lack of women?
For a state that has two female Senators and three female Congresswomen on the federal level, why are there no women in the leadership room on the state level? I’m not saying that this bullheaded manufactured crisis wouldn’t have shown up if more women had been involved, I’m just saying it is something that sticks out.
The other issue is that this sort of brinkmanship with the state budget has a very real cost. Even though an agreement has been reached, hundreds of state workers spent the last week establishing contingency plans. Time that could have been spent on productive work was spent on planning how to shut down the business of the state.
In recent days, employees have received layoff notices and have been pulled away from their regular work to send notices out to citizens and businesses who would be affected by the shutdown. Similarly, the state parks department is losing out on thousands of dollars in cancelled reservations for the first week of July as festivals, weddings and graduation celebrations were canceled or rescheduled for fear of having the guests arrive at a park locked down because of no budget. That lost revenue from reservations comes right out of the parks department coffers.
It is deeply disappointing that our state legislature could not come to a reasonable budget before now. This is what I think about every time Rep. Overstreet introduces a bill about paying your county taxes with gold coins or Sen. Ericksen justifies how many free steak dinners he is getting from lobbyists: is this really the best use of your time? Our representatives work for us and if I had an employee that wasted this much time, I’d fire them.