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Spin Control

Archive for December 2, 2011

Spec Sess Day 5: No budget by end of session?

OLYMPIA — A Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee expressed serious doubts Friday the Legislature would pass a new budget before time ran out on the special session. And the chairman of the committee did nothing to contradict him.

At the start of a hearing on various programs that would be eliminated under Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed cuts of some $2 billion, Rep. Bill Hinkle, R-Cle Elum, wondered if anyone in the room thought the Legislature “would vote the governor's budget out by the end of special session.”

“I don't think it's going to happen,” Hinkle said. “Are we really going to do that?”

Committee Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, replied that was a question “the chair is unable to answer.”

Hinkle asked for a show of hands for those who thought it would happen, but Hunter didn't allow that vote to proceed, and began taking testimony on a bill to reduce the state's payments to rural hospitals.

Spokane Democrats write check for Rush-Allen recount

Spokane City Councilman Richard Rush will get a hand recount afterall.

The incumbent councilman who trails former Councilman Mike Allen by 88 votes submitted a check this afternoon to the Spokane County Election's Office for $6,240 to pay for a full manual count of ballots in his race for the south district. He said the amount was provided by the Spokane County Democratic Party.

A recount is required because Allen's margin of victory is less than a half percentage point. The margin is larger than a quarter a percentage point — the level that requires recounting done by hand.

The Spokane County Canvassing Board earlier this week voted to do a hand recount in the race on the advice of Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton, who said it would be better to recount by hand to allow the county to run a thorough test of new vote-counting equipment with real ballots. Soon after, however, Jeff Baxter, who lost his state Senate seat representing Spokane Valley, decided to pay $1,774 for a partial hand recount of ballots in his race, despite losing by more than 3,000 votes.

Dalton, a Democrat, said it no longer made sense for the county to pay extra for a hand recount in the Rush-Allen race since one already would be done for 10 precincts in the 4th Legislative District. Dalton and the two other members of the Canvassing Board voted Thursday to change the Allen-Rush recount to a machine count.

Rush has questioned if Baxter, a Republican, was motivated to pay for a hand recount in order to prevent his race from being recounted by hand. Baxter has declined to provide a motivation.

“He's 10 points behind,” Rush said. “How can he make that up?”

The computer recount of the Rush-Allen race will move forward, along with the recount of the Baxter race against Mike Padden, next week. Dalton said the Rush-Allen race will be recounted by hand starting Dec. 12.

Dalton said the request marks the first time the county has recounted the same set of ballots twice since the 2004 governor's race.


Documents:

Spec Sess Day5: Slow day in the Capitol

OLYMPIA — Legislative action will be at a minimum today.

The Senate has only a pro forma session at noon. Pro forma is Latin for “we aren't really doing anything.” None of its committees are meeeting, either. Senators who want to go home can beat the evening traffic on I-5 and make it over Snoqualmie Pass when temperatures are above freezing.

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, had planned a press conference over the lunch hour to blast Attorney General Rob McKenna for proposing new state programs without explaining how he'd pay for them. But that event was cancelled earlier this morning “due to a last-minute scheduling conflict”. Not sure what the scheduling conflict is. Murray is the chairman of Senate Ways and Means, but it's not a public hearing for Senate W&M.

The House also has a pro forma session in the morning. But its members have a full day of committee hearings, closing with a  House Ways and Means hearing at 3:30 p.m. Ways & Means is the committee in charge of the budget — you know, the thing that's about $1.4 billion short of what it needs to pay for all the stuff the Legislature approved earlier this year? the thing that brought the honorables back to Olympia more than a month early to get fixed as fast as possible, to maximize savings?

The hearing isn't about the budget per se, but about several bills that would cut or delay certan programs. They might also talk about a possible solution for the Wenatchee Public Facilities District's financial problems, although the drop dead date for the PFD was originally supposed to be Thursday.

There is activity in and around the Capitol, however. Protests continue, and today's theme is kids. The Childrens Alliance will hold a noon rally on the Capitol steps, with adult and youth speakers asking legislators not to cut programs for children, and spend the rest of the day looking for members of their local delegations to deliver a proclamation and lobby. As one pundit said recently, at least the protesters are using the Capitol, since the legislators don't seem to be interested in doing so.

On a more seasonal note, there will be a holiday wreath laying at the Law Enforcement Memorial north of the Temple of Justice, and the holiday tree will be formally lit this evening.

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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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