Now’s your chance to watch “Staying Afloat: Challenges facing Washington State Ferries,” a one-hour documentary by TVW’s Jessica Gao. Watch The Impact tonight at 7 p.m. on TVW for follow-up interviews.
Archive for September, 2011
Gov. Chris Gregoire says she’s calling a special session to begin on Nov. 28. Why that date? “We need to get a budget done well before Christmas,” she said, but they also need the benefit of seeing the November revenue forecast.
“I have met with all four caucus leaders and all four budget leaders,” she said. She’s asking them all to work together. “Let’s do what we did last session so effectively,” she said, so in January, lawmakers can roll up their sleeves and try to find ways to spur job growth.
“Over the next week, I will provide our Legislature with the 10 percent reductions” requested from state agencies, she said. “However, let me be clear, not even that is enough to get us out of the hole,” she said.
“Our work will be brutal,” she said, but she’s not asking the Legislature to start from scratch: She’ll provide a “road map” with some proposed cuts. “Everything has to be on the table,” she said, including public schools, universities, social services and more. “We cannot take … a Pac-Man approach to the budget. We can’t just keep taking little bites out of one program, little bites out of one service,” she said. Instead, the state will have to admit there are some things it cannot do.
She said the $2 billion in cuts will come from $8.7 billion in areas where the state can actually make cuts. The remainder of the budget constitutes debt repayment and other mandatory spending. “Everything over which we have legal discretion … there will be those who disagree with us,” she said, and may file a lawsuit, but in her opinion the state can cut from social services, healthcare, education and corrections. “Those are the only places where there’s any real amount of money to get to $2 billion.”
She said she wants this done and finished before the next regular legislative session begins in January. “Let’s reserve the 2012 session to work on the policies that will help our economy,” she said.
What about taxes? “Premature. I won’t take anything off the table, I’ve asked them not to, so I won’t,” she said. “I’m not talking revenue now… I will take nothing off the table at this point.”
Why not start now? “We’re doing exactly what would be done if we came into legislative session in 2012. We’re doing it so we can get done in December,” she said. “I think they come in once all the work has been done,” she said, including committee meetings. “I think it helps them if I give them a start on it all, so that’s why I intend to give them a plan. They can disagree with it … I want them to begin the debate early,” she said.
Today at 9:30 a.m., tune to TVW to watch Gov. Chris Gregoire hold a media availability on “next steps” in the budget. This comes a week after the state’s chief economic forecaster predicted the state will see about $1.4 billion less in revenue over the next two years.
Tune in today and read all about it right here.
On The Impact on TVW at 7:00 pm tonight, you’ll see part of the big weekend ceremony, launching the removal of two dams on the Elwha River. When those dams come down, supporters say the free-flowing river will allow endangered salmon to return. The National Park Service estimates 3,000 salmon were in the river before the dam removal. When those dams went up in the early 1900s, it’s estimated that 300,000 salmon ran the river each year.
During the last scientific tour before demolition began, we interviewed two federal scientists who talk about the challenges of restoring salmon habitat, how this effort compares to other dam removals around the country, and how long it will take for abundant salmon runs to return. But there’s so much more to learn, so I’m providing you some links to the National Park Service, a site monitoring the removal through webcams, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, which all have much more information.
Also on The Impact tonight, I’m interviewing Les Purce, president of The Evergreen State College in Olympia. Students are returning to campus this week, amid new concerns of another round of budget cuts. You can watch The Impact on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm on TVW and at various times on our four PBS partners.
“These are not normal times,” said Arun Raha, the state’s top economist, in opening up his presentation on the Economic and Revenue Forecast (which you can watch live on TVW). “Fear and uncertainty have overwhelmed” consumer behavior, he said. Political gridlock in the other Washington has lead to uncertainty. And Europe’s economic troubles are affecting our own economy.
He said the probability of a double-dip recession has increased, though it’s too early to say if it will. Because of all these economic factors, Raha said he expects the state to take in $1.4 billion less in the two-year budget cycle than he estimated just last quarter.
“There are still over 6 million fewer jobs nationally than there were at the start of this recession,” he said, illustrating the term “jobless recovery.”
Raha said even though most of those in the audience weren’t surprised by the forecast, it’s still “truly troubling.” He said the best he can hope for is that we don’t slip into another recession.
In the Q&A portion, lawmakers said there may be a need for a brief special session to handle the lack of revenue.
If you’re just looking at the state’s unemployment rate, nothing has changed: We’re still at 9.3 percent, which means nearly 310,000 people are unemployed and looking for work.
But the state has added jobs for every month of the last year. That means there are now 46,600 more jobs in the state than this time last year.
“At some point, there will be a tipping point where the constant job growth starts eroding the unemployment rate,” said Dave Wallace, acting chief economist for Employment Security.
You can read the full report here.
Yesterday, the Washington State Redistricting Commission met to unveil four redistricting maps. I’ll post the video as soon as it’s available. In the meantime, you can view all the plans right here.
The big headline of the day? The possibility of a minority majority district. Here‘s a great story by Jordan Schrader of The News Tribune and Brad Shannon of The Olympian.
A new and possibly budget-busting state revenue forecast and plans to carve out new state congressional and legislative district boundaries highlight TVW’s coverage for this week. Both those events, and others, will be shown live on TVW and live on the web at tvw.org — check TVW’s air schedule here.
We’ll also have live coverage of two legislative hearings, Senate Ways & Means on Monday, and a joint House hearing on Tuesday, both looking at K-12 school issues. The State Supreme Court’s fall docket kicks off Thursday, TVW will carry three of the four cases live.
We’ll be at Seattle CityClub Tuesday covering a conversation with new UW President Michael Young, and at The Olympian Editorial Board Wednesday recording pro-con interviews on I-1163, the in-home care initiative. On Saturday we’ll be in Port Angeles for the ceremony that begins the removal of the Elwha River Dams, and at the Seattle U Law School for a conference on civics education and the law. All these events will be recorded and televised this week and/or next.
It’s a busy day for tvw.org, as we’re webcasting three significant events:
* “The 9/11 Conference” — featuring Slade Gorton, Bob Kerry, Rob McKenna and others — starting at 8:30 a.m.
* The second meeting of Gov. Gregoire’s Connecting Washington Task Force — charged with proposing how to fund transportation — starting at 9 a.m. We’re also live on TV with this one.
* The state Clemency and Pardons Board hears appeals from a number of petitioners starting at 10 a.m.
This week’s Q&A is with Sen. Mike Carrell, who I spoke with mostly about SJR 8205, which will remove a provision in the state’s Constitution that has never been enforced — and has been ruled unconstitutional. We also talked about next week’s big Economic and Revenue Forecast, where the state’s top economist is expected to have more bad news for lawmakers. Read all the way through the interview to see what Sen. Carrell has to say about it.
Q: First, what would the SJR do, in your own words?
Carrell: What it will do is eliminate from the state constitution a redundant part which is Article 6, Section 1(A). Article 6, Section 1 says what the qualifications are for a person to vote: You must live in the state, be 18 years of age, you can’t be a criminal — things of that nature. But Article 6, Section 1(A) says if you’ve been a resident of some state outside of Washington and you haven’t been here at least 60 days, then you can only vote for the president and vice president. The U.S. Supreme Court declared that it was unconstitutional to not allow somebody to vote that was of the age and had the other qualifications. But this has remained in our state constitution. I’ve tried for a number of years to convince people of both parties to clean up the constitution by removing this clause, and I finally did convince virtually everyone, so it’s going to a vote of the people.
It’s more a matter of doing some house cleaning to clean up something that was never implemented. It was passed by the people in 1977 and since that time, it has never been in actual effect. We have ignored it, so it is time to get rid of it.