OLYMPIA -- Despite misgivings that it was too meager, the House Ways and Means Committee gave overwhelming support to a $480 million change in the state's financially strapped budget.
Committee Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, called it a downpayment.
Rep. Gary Alexander of Olympia, the Republican budget leader, said it was a disappointing "partial downpayment. Yet Alexander and all other Republican members of the panel except one voted with Democrats to move the cuts to the floor with only minor amendments to cover technical problems and funding for a new aviation education program.
Among other amendments voted down was a proposal by Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches, to end a program reward state employees for reducing commuter miles by carpooling and other means. He called it the commute trip reduction system a bonus with a state employees the state can no longer afford.
When Republicans said they hoped the plan would be considered for elimination in January, when the Legislature tackles the more difficult cuts, Hunter replied: "I can safely say everything is under consideration.