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After a press conference, Gov. Chris Gregoire visits the Spokane Regional Health District on Thursday to get a flu shot. At far right is state Health Director Mary Selecky, who also received her vaccination shot. (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)
After a press conference, Gov. Chris Gregoire visits the Spokane Regional Health District on Thursday to get a flu shot. At far right is state Health Director Mary Selecky, who also received her vaccination shot. (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)

FRIDAY, SEPT. 18, 2009

Gregoire predicts a slow rebound

Gov. Chris Gregoire got her seasonal flu shot Thursday. Yet there’s no such protection against the recession that continues to afflict the state budget.

State economists predict shoppers will remain tightfisted with their dollars and credit cards. The result will be fewer tax receipts and the loss of another $238 million from the state’s treasury.

“We know we’re not out of the woods yet,” Gregoire said, acknowledging that another set of budget cuts loom, even as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke declared this week that the worst recession since the 1930s was “likely over.”

A report from the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council echoed the news with this caveat: “That only means that economic activity has stopped declining. It does not mean that good times are back.”

The governor said she believed the economic problems have “bottomed out” but that the state’s revenues won’t immediately rebound.

As the cameras clicked and she plugged flu vaccinations and urged residents to wash their hands and cover their mouths when coughing, Gregoire said the aggressive spread of the swine flu, or H1N1 influenza virus, should be viewed not only as a health problem, but as a threat to businesses as the critical Christmas shopping season nears.

While weak sales tax collections are to blame for about half of the predicted tax shortfalls, economists also cited possible business tax refunds along with notable reductions in actual collections.

Gregoire and Democratic legislators said spending cuts will be considered. She did not mention the possibility of tax increases.

Republicans said the Legislature should cut spending as lawmakers begin working on the budget.


 

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