The name of this blog is “Nuts & Bolts” – basic components of construction. One of the basic components of the business of construction is politics – and we all should be paying a lot more attention to that in the coming months. ABC hosted coffee hours with two candidates this week, neither of whom currently hold office. Both talked about what they were hearing from their constituents as they doorbelled their districts. No surprise…jobs, the economy, shrink the size of government (at all levels) and a “throw the bums out” mentality. They said people are finally “getting it” and are genuinely scared of what the future might hold if we don’t get government spending under control.
Jim Haughey, chief economist for Reed Construction Data, reported that Washington is one of only four states (Connecticut, New Hampshire and California) with negative reserves, and we will need to make immediate spending cuts. The other Washington has failed to send the $480 million for extended Medicaid funding that Gov. Gregoire and our state legislators (at least the majority) were counting on. Gov. Gregoire said she’ll order across-the-board cuts in state spending if the check isn’t on its way west by August 9th. She may also call a special legislative session, but that’s politically dangerous. And, the really bad news is the shortfall for the next biennium is $3 billion and climbing.
You can’t pay attention to the media without hearing about “we can no longer afford the government we have.” We have all “reset” our personal and company budgets and priorities, and now, finally, our governments have no choice but to do the same.
And the playground that all of this will play out on is the upcoming elections. We need to pay attention, get involved, meet with, contribute to and help out candidates who understand you can’t spend more than you take in….and we are going to take in less for the foreseeable future. We have to help throw out those bums who don’t get it and aren’t willing to make the tough and strategic decisions to shrink the size and expense of government. It gets back to the Priorities of Government, as first promoted by Gov. Locke: such as public safety, education, infrastructure.
Deep cuts will likely mean less spending for capital projects and maintenance. Just like government has underfunded its employees’ pension and benefit funding for years, it has long underfunded infrastructure and transportation, including maintenance of existing assets. Our public buildings, water/sewer systems and roads/bridges will be even more crumbling.
I don’t have any wise conclusions, but I do have words to the wise: Get into politics or get out of business. Find candidates who “get it” and support them with your dollars and time. Host a meet-the-candidate coffee at your home or office or help build/put up yard signs. We have nail guns and trucks that can be put to good use for a good cause. Helping elect the right candidates is good for your business.