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WA Lege Day 87: House GOP counters with its own budget plan

House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt makes a point during the unveiling of the GOP budget plan.

OLYMPIA — House Republicans unveiled a leaner spending plan for 2011-13 than their Democratic counterparts, one that eliminates some social programs but spends more on education.

Like the Democratic proposal, it has no tax increases.

Republican leaders released the budget at an 11:30 p.m. press conference, and plan to offer it as a substitute for HB 1087, the House Democratic spending plan when the Ways and Means Committee meets this afternoon.

For details on the House Republicans' plan, or to comment, click to go inside the blog.

Like the Democratic proposal, the GOP plan gets its biggest savings — $1.2 billion — by not giving a cost-of-living raise to teachers or shrinking public school classroom sizes, which were approved by voters in 2000. It cuts $482 million from the state's colleges and universities and $362 million from increases in pension payments to retired state workers.It eliminates a program for smaller classes in Kindergarten through Grade 4 and cuts pay to state workers by 3 percent0

Among the biggest differences:

It eliminates state funding for the Basic Health Program, dropping some $230 million from the general fund budget and about $210 million from other budgets. Democrats kept Basic Health for people within 133 percent of the poverty level, which is down from the old guideline of 300 percent.

It eliminates the Disability Lifeline program, which Republicans prefer to call by its old name of General Assistance, Unemployable, dropping some $149 million from the general fund and about $125 million from other budgets. Democrats want to keep health care for people on Disability Lifeline and replace cash payments with housing vouchers.

It cuts tuition wavers for college students by $71 million.

It also adds $113 for public school programs not in the Democratic budget, including $6 million for the school food program for low income students. It does not call for an early release of felons from prisons as a cost-saving measure.

It does not rely on the sale or lease of the state's liquor distribution center for revenue that can be spent over the biennium. The House Democrat's budget called for the sale or lease to bring in $300 million.

Details on the GOP plan can be found here. Details on the Democratic plan can be found here.

“We want to stop over-promising and under-delivering,” House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt said.

Do they have the votes to substitute their budget for the Democrats' budget in the committee, or on the House floor. “We'll see,” Rep. Gary Alexander of Olympia, the ranking Republican on the committee said.

A bigger question might be whether the Republicans' plan will be closer to the budget the Senate will release next week, after the House passes its budget? Both parties are said to be collaborating on a budget in the Senate, and House Republicans took some ideas from the Senate GOP's main budget guy, Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield.

Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt said that chamber's budget is still under construction, but “I'm hoping it's going to be very close” to the House GOP plan.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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