The Legislature can't seem to get anything done. Do you think that matters for Washington's economy?

Share story

With a second special session in the offing, the Washington Legislature has been unable to complete its most basic function: funding state government. This, even though lawmakers are in contempt of a state Supreme Court order to adequately fund K-12 education.

This is not childish quarreling. As with the dysfunctional federal government, deep philosophical disagreements prevent the compromise that once made legislation possible. Take Seattle and a few other areas away and Washington is a red state, Idaho on the Pacific.

Faced with a crisis, such as the danger Washington would lose the 777X project, a majority of legislators can act. Otherwise, paralysis is routine.

Democrats don’t get to create Jerry Brown’s California. Republicans don’t get to emulate Scott Walker’s Wisconsin.

How much does it affect the economy? The Puget Sound region is undergoing a historic boom despite the Olympia dystopia. Exports keep growing. Median household income is above the national average.

Could it really be: That government is best which governs paralyzed (with apologies to Jefferson)?

It certainly isn’t the case in the Other Washington, where policy failures and austerity have prolonged the pain of the Great Recession, hurt American credibility, increased inequality, dampened innovation, failed to use historic low interest rates to finance advanced infrastructure and threatened the future with cuts to research.

Here, the opportunity costs of a dysfunctional Legislature are real. One example is no action on Gov. Jay Inslee’s carbon tax. Another, from a previous session, was the loss of the Columbia River Crossing project and its federal funding. Also, high unemployment plagues many counties. So I think eventually there will be obvious consequences to the state’s economy and competitiveness.

What do you think?

The poll has expired. Thank you for your submissions.

This Week’s Links:

The Federal Reserve is much more likely to take your job than a robot, so naturally the media are talking about robots | Dean Baker

The FIFA syndrome: worker exploitation and corporate responsibility | Lucy P. Marcus/Project Syndicate

Mary Meeker: The Internet’s growth is actually slowing | Wired

Why is the U.S. economy still depressed | Brad DeLong

Income inequality, social mobility and the decision to drop out of high school | Vox

Government R&D, private profits and the American taxpayer | Eduardo Porter

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Humana may sell

Big Healthcare will get bigger

That should make you sick


You may find an archive of all my ravings, er, columns and blog posts here. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter, @jontalton