The big story today – well, the big story after the Midwest-style snowstorms we’ve endured for the past two weeks – is Governor Christine Gregoire’s decision to parrot the budget cuts her opponent, Dino Rossi, advocated during the recent election.
Translation to Sonic supporters: No soup for you.
It’s not quite that dire, but when the liberal governor of a left-wing state calls for a quarter-million reduction in health care expenditures and skips pay raises for teachers, even an out-of-shape Danny Fortson could stretch to the conclusion that it will be extremely difficult to get any arena proposals through the legislature this session.
As Chris McGann quotes a Gregoire aide, “That November [economic] forecast kind of changed the game.” Which is to say, the governor was all for spending money on the stuff her constituents wanted, back when she felt she had the dough on hand.
Now that the state’s revenue forecast has dropped by nearly two billion bucks? Not so much.
In fact, it doesn’t take much of an analyst to see just how tough it’s going to be to get any money this year. The governor will tell you herself:
“The state must squeeze every ounce of value out of every taxpayer dollar while maintaining our priorities of protecting families and kids the best we can.”
The argument as to whether funding arenas pay for themselves or whether they are hopeless boondoggles that primarily benefit billionaires is for another day. The primary message you should get from these words is this: Opponents of any KeyArena proposal are going to have very easy sledding this coming year. When times are tough and budgets are being cut, even the most inept politician is savvy enough to realize that taking a stand against arenas and stadiums is an easy political win.
It would appear that the arena’s only hope is to be presented as a work project which would bring jobs in the short-term, and economic benefit in the long-term, which is what Brian Robinson at Save Our Sonics has been saying all along. Whether that message will gain traction in an icy legislative environment remains to be seen.