OLYMPIA — The plan to consolidate arts and heritage programs into a single “mega-agency” gets another chance to get out of a House committee this morning, and the general operating budget gets a chance to get out of its House committee this afternoon.
The House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee is scheduled to take action on the bill that would provide money to keep Spokane's Museum of Arts and Culture open, as well as the State History Museum in Tacoma. It does that by tapping money being set aside for the Heritage Center in Olympia. The plan stalled in committee last week when Democrats didn't have enough votes to pass it out, they'll try again on that, plus a plan to add some responsibilities to the Public Disclosure Commission and streamline the Sentencing Guidelines Commission and save some money at the State Printer.
UPDATE: Apparently, there's still some dissension among the committee's Democrats. Chairman Samn Hunt, D-Olympia, walked into the hearing room at 9 a.m., (about 15 minutes after the scheduled start time) announced that the meeting was coming to order and immediately going into recess because they were still in caucus. “Be patient” he said as he walked off the daiis.
But for real money talk, it will be hard to beat the House Ways and Means Committee hearing this afternoon. The Democrats $32.4 billion budget proposal is up for a committee vote, and Republicans are threatening to propose an amendment that consists of a completely new budget.
Meanwhile, more demonstrators, some of them from Spokane, are expected at the Capitol to protest an “all-cuts” budget, which is, so far, the only kind of budget that has been proposed. Tuesday's demonstration was underwhelming (see below), but organizers say they plan to bring more protesters each day, leading up to a big “Working Families Day” rally on Friday. General Administration is bracing for about 5,000 people.
One organizer said people wouldn't be leaving until they get a response from legislators to their appeal for some tax hikes to balance out the cuts.
And if that response is “No”? the organizer was asked. “Then they won't leave.”