Eye On Olympia

Budget dust: The $2.2 million typo...


Because of a state budget-writer's typo, more than $2 million for a local project was left out of a Senate budget proposal Wednesday.

After months of asking lawmakers for millions of dollars in help building a new downtown YMCA and YWCA, the project's line in the budget was a relative pittance: just $250,000.

YMCA officials in Spokane had this reaction:

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What happened?

"I dropped a zero," said Brian Sims, capital budget coordinator for the Senate budget committee. "I put the wrong number in. There's about 10,000 numbers in this budget."

That news came as a huge relief to Trish McFarland, manager of the YMCA and YWCA's nearly $41 million campaign for that new building and another YMCA facility in north Spokane.

"It wasn't funny at first," McFarland said. "I'll tell you, I heard from a lot of board members."

Sims said the figure would be changed to $2.5 million Thursday night by an amendment in the Ways and Means Committee. Budgets in Olympia tend to be quickly drafted, much-amended documents hundreds of pages long.

"I don't think we've ever put out a budget that was without at least one error," said Sims. "… But it's a big screw-up when the majority leader (Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane) asks for a figure, and I put one-tenth of it in."

Other errors won't make people so relieved, he said. In one case, the same project was named twice. Result: twice the money.

But that, too, also was slated to be fixed in Thursday night's amendment.

"They were very excited," he said of the double-dip. "But it's not going to stay that way."

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