Eye On Olympia

Dollars versus a potential voter veto...

It must have pained some fiscal conservatives, but Republican leaders last night argued against a provision that would add an estimated $10 million more to state coffers without additional taxes or fees on anyone.

At issue was Senate Bill 6896, which sets up a series of accounts into which the state plans to dump hundreds of millions of surplus dollars this year. That cash, budget writers know, will be needed in the next two-year budget cycle.

But Republicans balked at the bill's emergency clause, which allows the bill to take effect immediately instead of after the usual 90-day waiting period. But such a clause also makes it much harder for voters to overturn any bill with a ballot measure.

Democrats said it just makes sense to shift that money into the hands of state investment managers as quickly as possible. Sen. Ken Jacobsen said that the extra three months would translate into about $10 million more in interest and earnings.

It might be a good idea, Sen. Stephen Johnson, R-Kent, said. But the constitution, he said, doesn't allow for "emergencies" like that.

Democrats said it's silly to lose the money.

"If we don't do this right away, then we will lose the interest," said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. "It's like saying we'd just rather put it under the mattress for a few months."

The amendment (and the bill) passed.




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