William Yardley (NY Times):
OLYMPIA, Wash. — A strange sound rang out from the Senate Democratic caucus meeting at the State Capitol here this week.
“We broke into applause,” said Senator Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor. “There hasn’t been a lot of applause in caucus in the last few years.”
There may not be much more anytime soon. The applause was for the news that Boeing and union machinists, long at odds, had reached a sweeping agreement to mend their differences and build the new 737 Max airplane here in the Puget Sound region. The deal would mean thousands of jobs for years to come, yet it was no antidote for the pressing problem the caucus had to address. It would not balance the budget.
After cutting $10 billion over the past three years, including trimming higher education spending by half, slicing health care programs and streamlining state agencies, lawmakers and the 6.7 million residents of Washington State have been rewarded for their sacrifices with more bad news: The state has another enormous budget deficit.
“I can’t take it anymore,” said Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat. “I sure hope that’s where the people of the State of Washington are.”
So now, facing a budget gap of nearly $2 billion and more bleak revenue forecasts, Ms. Gregoire and some Democratic leaders say they will seek the same solution they have in the past: To raise taxes.
The question is whether, this time, voters will actually let them. MORE...