Thousands of Jobs Needlessly Eliminated Under Supermajority Law
Tens of thousands of Washingtonians have lost jobs as a result of the Great Recession, and the supermajority law has made the situation far worse than it otherwise would have been. Without the law, policymakers could have responded to the recession with a balanced mix of targeted budget cuts and some tax increases. Such a balanced approach would have saved many jobs –both in the public and private sectors – and would have preserved core public health and education investments.
Instead, the supermajority law forced policymakers to cut public investments by $10.6 billion since 2009, and as a result the jobs of nearly 18,000 child protection workers, parole officers, healthcare workers, and other frontline workers have been lost. As the figure below shows, while private sector employment has increased by about three percent (83,200 jobs) since summer 2009, the state and local government workforce has declined by nearly 4 percent (17,800 jobs) during the same period.
That drop has significantly held down growth in total employment and has held back a broader economic recovery in Washington state. Without these losses, the economy would have added at least 83,000 new jobs since 2009 – well above the actual growth of 65,400 jobs.
Thousands of private-sector workers have also lost jobs as a result of the unnecessarily deep state budget cuts. Washington’s state and local governments contract with thousands of local businesses and nonprofit organizations to build and maintain infrastructure and provide critical health and other public services. As the state reduced purchases and lowered payments to these businesses, jobs were inevitably lost.
As of 2009, 41 percent of human service nonprofits that contract with state or local governments in Washington have been forced to lay off staff as a result of budget cuts. Today, that share is certainly much higher due to an additional $5 billion in cuts to public health, education, and safety services enacted since 2009.
The supermajority requirement distorts democracy, eliminates jobs, and serves as a barriers to state economic prosperity. To read more about this damaging legacy read the full brief, “Supermajority Law's Damaging Legacy: I-1185 Would Renew A Policy That Has Eliminated Jobs And Thwarted Economic Recovery In Washington State.”