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Spin Control

Spec Session Day 11: New budget gimmick on table

OLYMPIA -- The budget negotiations remain in an ice jam, but the political temperature in the Capitol may have gone up to 33 degrees with a new accounting maneuver -- some may dare call it "gimmick" -- on the table.

It involves the state holding onto money that eventually goes to the cities and counties just a little bit longer, but making sure those local governments get their payments on time. Further details might make 99 percent of our readers' eyes glaze over, but for those who want more details, Jordan Schrader of the Tacoma News Tribune has them here.

On the plus side, State Treasurer James McIntyre, a Democrat whom Republicans are fond of quoting when they don't like a payment delay in the Democrats' budgets, is OK with this bit of accounting legerdemaine under the right conditions.

On the minus side, some of the true budget hawks are already savaging it. Bob Williams, former legislator, one-time GOP gubernatorial candidate and current president of State Budget Solutions calls it just another gimmick. Time to go back to the priorities of government process used in 1993, he says.

Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center allows as  how the move might make sense from a cash management standpoint, but doesn't really help the underlying problem: "The charge for lawmakers has not changed: Adopt a balanced budget within the revenue forecast that is sustainable and gimmick free."

Everything today is being conducted behind closed doors, but if anything leaks out, we'll let you know.

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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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