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Eye On Olympia

House passes budget, 54-42…

Just 10 hours after unveiling the details, House lawmakers on Friday night approved a $35 billion state budget that includes about $4 billion in cuts.

The budget, which now goes to the Senate for approval, passed on a largely party-line vote, 54 to 42. It includes numerous fee increases but no major tax hikes. It cuts schools, health care, social services, higher education and government.

Majority Democrats said they did the best they could to curtail spending without destroying schools, health care and the social safety net. One budget writer said she cried over some of the decisions they had to make.

“This is not a budget we would have chosen in a perfect world, but this isn’t a perfect world,” said House budget writer Kelli Linville, D-Bellingham.

Minority Republicans blasted the plan, saying that it continues to overspend at a time when budget writers should be slimming government.

“We should be making the hard choices now,” said Rep. Matt Shea, R-Mead.

The budget relies on about $5 billion in federal stimuls dollars and other one-time money. To Democrats, that money was a lifeline at a critical moment.

“This budget is responsible and I’m proud to vote for it,” said Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle.
Republicans blame Democrats for state spending that’s grown by $8 billion _ or 33 percent _ in the last four years.

“This state made promises it could not keep,” said Rep. Jay Rodne, R-North Bend. “…We have lived on credit, and we’re going to continue living on this credit card.”

Democrats say its unfair to blame them for the greatest economic downturn in decades.

“This is the Great Recession,” said Rep. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island.

Linville also said that further reforms are coming, “because we have to, and because we want to. Nobody wants to vote for this budget that cuts things that we care about.”


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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