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Spin Control

Wed., May 25, 2011, 12:30 p.m.

Spec Sess Day 30: Budget problem could mean revote

OLYMPIA -- A problem with a section of the general operating budget could require an amendment before the bill goes to a vote in the Senate today. Which means the amended bill would have to come back the House for another round of voting -- and possibly debating -- there.

And if it does, House Republicans will have an amendment of their own. Not of the technical nature, but one that would move money from a program for unemployed persons with disabilities to public education. Just a transer that won't effect the bottom line, Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, said.

The problem involves the amount of money left in the Life Sciences Fund for special projects, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said. Gov. Chris Gregoire believes she had a commitment for $20 million in that fund, which is fueled by money from a settlement with tobacco companies that Gregoire, as an attorney general, helped win.

But the Legislature is tapping the Life Sciences Fund for the general operating budget, as it has in past years, and it doesn't look like that much money will be left in there. Keeping that commitment would require making another change somewhere else. In a $32.2 billion budget, it's probably doable. But it is a change that would require an amendment in the Senate, and a revote in the House.

When stuff like this happens at this point in the legislative session, the problem can be magnified because, unlike the Rolling Stones song, time is not on their side.

Also requiring tweaks to the scheduling is a possible vote over extending the taxes that were used to build the Mariners stadium. Allocation of the money the tax would raise is the sticking point. Some other bills are waiting in the queue until that negotiation is completed.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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