Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you had a good St. Patrick's Day and that your NCAA brackets are holding up better than mine.
Dr. Arun Raha, our state's chief economist, released the state revenue forecast yesterday. It revealed tax collections are down by an additional $698 million (see chart below), which means our state is now facing a $5.1 billion shortfall for the 2011-13 budget cycle. The forecast also showed that our economic recovery remains fragile because of slow job growth, lagging construction and recent developments in the Middle East and Japan. And in what you may be experiencing on a personal level, rising gas prices, in particular, continue to hurt consumer confidence.
These economic and budget challenges are going to require our state to prioritize and practice austerity – much like families and small businesses in these tough times. I discuss these issues in greater detail in this week's video update, which runs 2:44, that you can watch by clicking here or on the picture to the right. You can also watch my past videos by clicking on these links: the economy (1:49); gas prices (1:49); state spending and the budget (5:55); and jobs (1:02).
In closing, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan. I'm confident that Japan, which is an important trade partner with our state, will endure and emerge from this tragedy. And I wish them strength and wisdom in the process.
Have a good weekend.
Town hall meetings: In case you missed last Saturday, please come this Saturday
I'd like to thank those of you who were able to attend my two town hall meetings last Saturday (pictured right). If you weren't able to come, I will be holding another event this Saturday, March 19, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. I will be with Rep. Susan Fagan at the Spokane Fire District Station 81 — 6117 South Palouse Highway in Spokane. We hope to see you there!
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7922 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000