Smart plan for now, future
On a separate track, however, Democrats and Republicans have been working on a promising plan to give the state economy a jolt by creating jobs now, jobs that would build infrastructure that feeds economic growth in the future -- without raising taxes.
Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish), who chairs the House Capital Budget Committee, has been working with his Republican counterpart, Judy Warnick of Moses Lake, and capital budget leaders in the Senate on a jobs-stimulus proposal that gets projects already on the state's to-do list underway sooner.
They'd be funded through bonds backed by a portion of existing revenue streams, such as taxes paid on solid waste, oil and pesticides. The plan would also bond against lottery receipts.
An outline of the plan offered by Dunshee and Warnick would raise about $1.3 billion from bond sales, which they say could trigger almost $800 million more in matching funds. They estimate it would create between 20,000 and 25,000 full-time jobs for a year -- a welcome boost for our still-tentative recovery.
It would get projects moving quickly across the state. In Snohomish County, it would fund public-works, housing and hatchery projects, and classroom upgrades at Everett Community College.
The result, beyond immediate jobs in the battered construction industry, is a stronger economic foundation that can spark private investment and job growth for years to come.
The timing is also right because the plan takes advantage of extraordinarily low interest rates, bringing down the total cost of each project.
In exchange for their support, Republicans are seeking to give voters a chance to enshrine a lower debt limit into the state Constitution. The idea, a good one, is to implement recommendations made last year by a debt commission, authorizing a higher debt limit when times are tough and jobs are needed, and a lower limit when tax revenues are strong.
Such a deal would help give the economy the boost it needs today, provide economic benefits well into the future, and helps ensure sustainable borrowing once the economy regains its strength.
It's a deal that serves everyone's interests, today and tomorrow. It's a deal worth making.