Spin Control

Senate majority claims counter on budget, mum on details

OLYMPIA -- Leaders of the coalition that controls the Senate say they have made a counter offer on the budget to the House Democrats, who yesterday announced a $33.6 billion spending plan for 2013-15.

It's a "comprehensive" offer, Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina said. It spends more than $1 billion extra on public schools. 

So what's in it and how is it different from House Bill 1057?

"We're not going to negotiate in the press," Tom said at a press conference the Majority Coalition Caucus called, ostensibly to say they had countered on the budget.

Told that the House Democrats plan to spend about $1 billion extra for schools, too, Tom said the budget really only has $700 million. It relies on closing a list of tax credits to raise money beyond that level for schools, and that's not a reliable solution.

"It needs to be dependable funding," Tom said. "Going out to the voters, by nature is not a dependable source."

There's no guarantee the voters will say yes, he added. "This is not the Soviet Union where you can guarantee a vote."

But the House tax package does not have a referendum clause, its author, Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said. It  is expected to have an emergency clause, making it unlikely the taxes could be placed on the ballot by a signature campaign.  

Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, the House Democrats chief budget negotiator, declined to say whether the Senate Majority Caucus, which includes 23 Republicans and two Democrats, had presented a comprehensive counter offer. 

"We're moving a budget so we have a vehicle," Hunter said. That process is public, but negotiations are in private. "I'm not going to characterize those private offers." 




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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