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Spin Control

Posts tagged: House budget

House passes budget much different from Senate.

OLYMPIA — The House passed a $34.2 billion budget for most state programs that would add money to public schools and assumes a jump in some taxes on businesses and consumers.

In a mostly party-line vote, House Democrats the two-year spending plan that their budget chairman, Rep. Ross Hunter of Medina, described as “a responsible budget that invests in our education obligations responsibly.”

Republicans described it as a budget that will cost the state jobs. “My taxpayers and my businesses are not happy about this budget at all,” Rep. Gary Alexander of Olympia, the ranking Republican on the budget committee, said.

The 54-43 vote, in which all Republicans and a single Democrat voted no, was merely the next step in the political dance between the House, the Senate and Gov. Jay Inslee, moving the state's biennial operating budget into negotiations among all those groups. Inslee also proposes changing some tax preferences to increase revenue; the Senate spending plan which passed last week has no tax increases, although some members who voted for that plan said they expected it to come back from the House with some “loopholes” closed.

Those negotiations will start Monday. The session is scheduled to adjourn on April 28, but a special session will be called if a spending plan isn't hammered out by then.

The House legislation that would actually end or revise those exemptions and extend temporary taxes on some business services and beer has not yet had a committee hearing.

The House budget reduces class siizes for young children in public schools, pays for all-day kindergarten in some of the state's poorest districts and adds money for school supplies and transportation. It also increases spending on early learning programs and all

“We all face the same problems. We choose different solutions,” Hunter said. The Senate plan relies on gimmicks and unrealistic assumptions the House plan doesn't use. “We don't give everybody everything they want. We fix broken stuff.”

But with state revenues expected to grow by $2 billion over the next two years and some $900 million in other changes that both sides support, the state shouldn't have raise taxes, Alexander said: “When do we say enough's enough? At what point do we say government needs to live within its means.”

Countered Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington: “This is the only budget I've seen today.”

  

Budget action likely today

OLYMPIA — The House Appropriations Committee is likely to vote this afternoon on whether to advance the budget plan Democrats released yesterday, setting up debate on the floor on Friday.

After a marathon hearing Wednesday, a few hours after the $34.5 billion spending plan was unveiled, the committee scheduled an executive session which gives members a chance to praise or criticize the plan then vote on whether to move it to the full chamber.

It's a foregone conclusion Democrats have the votes on the committee to move it out of committee, and Republicans reportedly will not object to a full debate and floor vote on Friday. Not yet scheduled is a hearing on what could be the most contentious part of the budget proposal, an omnibus tax bill that reduces or eliminates the various tax preferences that help get the budget the money it plans to spend.

That will have to be heard by the House Finance Committee, which right now isn't scheduled to meet until next Friday.

Elsewhere around the Capitol, a hearing on a plan to rewrite parts of Initiative 502 to develop “a commercially viable regulatory scheme” for legalized marijuana, had to be scrapped Thursday morning because one of the votes in favor wasn't there to move it out of the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. Senate Ways and Means is working on the 2013-15 Capital Budget.

And there are an unusually large number of cowboy hats in and around the building because the Washington Cattlemen's Association is  having its annual barbecue in the space  between the Capitol and the House office building. So yes, the entire area smells like grilled meat, and no, there's no Washington Vegetarianpersons' Association Day to provide that sort of balance.

Gregoire: Everybody has to give on budget

Gov. Chris Gregoire: “Not interested in a special session.”

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire said she still has hopes the Legislature can reach a budget deal by midnight Thursday, the end of the current session, but conceded there is no deal at this point.

“I will fight to the end to get out of here on time,” Gregoire told reporters Tuesday morning. “I'm not interested in a special session.”

But if there's no compromise by the end of the day, that will be difficult, she said. And while there are things that she'll push for, she doesn't know what a workable compromise is yet: “I'll know it when I see it.”

After House Democrats passed a budget solely with their members support, Senate Republicans got the support of three conservative Democrats in that chamber to use a parliamentary procedure Friday and pass a very different spending plan with more program cuts, no new taxes and fewer accounting shifts. The move caught Senate Democratic leadership by surprise.

Gregoire declined to speculate on how the majority  leadership miscounted the support for their budget, and said she, too, was surprised by some of the things that became a point of contention between the two caucuses. But Friday' night is “Over. Done. Through.” and all sides have to work out the compromise.

She's also not interersted in a solution that has been suggested by some legislators: forget about a revised budget and give her extra flexibility to cut programs or agencies. Under current law, a governor can only make across the board cuts for all agencies to avoid a deficit.

Gregoire has asked for expanded authority to handle budget problems for several years, but that's not the solution for this budget problem, she said. “They have to pass a budget.”

WA Lege Day 87: Protesters don’t like either budget

OLYMPIA – As several hundred protesters chanted about corporate greed and demanded tax increases, House budget writers gathered to decide which of two plans to cut billions from state programs they would endorse.

The state’s budgeting process, which is facing serious time constraints as the Legislature slogged through Day 87 of its 105-day session, featured competing spending plans in the House. Republicans unveiled their alternative budget Wednesday afternoon, proposing more cuts from health insurance and disability programs but spends more on public schools.

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WA Lege Day 82: Budget to be released Monday

OLYMPIA — The House 2011-13 general fund operating budget will be released at lunchtime Monday, House Democrats said this afternoon.

Ways and Means Chairman Ross Hunter has scheduled a “roll-out” press conference for 12:15 p.m. Monday, to be followed by a public hearing at 3:30 p.m.

That has prompted government watchdogs like Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center to question whether this complies with state laws on adequate notice for legislation. On Friday afternoon, the schedule for Monday was changed to note the hearing was coming on a bill that is being amended, but not yet available. “Notice will be sent as soon as the document is available.”

So apparently it will be available about three hours before the hearing on what is currently a 183 page bill.

WA Lege Day 82: Budget Monday?

OLYMPIA — Stop me if you've heard this one: The House general operating fund budget for the 2011-13 biennium will be released Monday.

That's the rumor, which is pretty much the same rumor floating around last Friday afternoon, except that last Friday afternoon when that was said, folks meant Monday of this week, as in four days ago.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, was purposefully vague today when asked about the timing.

“We have to have the votes and I'm still working it very hard,” he said when queried by reporters in the wings of the House chamber. “I'm not saying when it will come out because I don't know. Typically it comes out on a Monday…I do not know when when I'm releasing it.”

Releasing the budget on Monday would likely mean hearings later in the week, on days when labor unions, social workers, and faith-based groups plan to stage a series of protests in the Capitol demanding something that the spending plan almost certainly will not have:

Closing some tax exemptions as a way of increasing state revenue rather than cutting programs to close the budget gap.

WA Lege Day 47: House budget moves without tax numbers

OLYMPIA — The House committee that oversees spending passed a Democratic plan to fix the $2.8 billion gap in the state budget Friday. But that bill had a gap of its own.

It calls for some $857 million in new tax revenue, but doesn’t specify where it comes from.

“We are the Ways and Means Committee, and this budget is going to require some new taxes,” Ranking Republican Gary Alexander of Olympia said. The ways to spend money are spelled out, but the means are not, he said.

Democrats acknowledged it was unusual to pass a budget without taxes in it, but that information will be added eventually.

“This is not the budget we’re going to vote on before March 11 — God willing,” Chairwoman Kelli Linville, D-Bellingham, said.

Budget writers are still trying to craft a package of tax increases that can get the needed support within their caucus.

“We don’t have a revenue package completed yet. I’m disappointed in that, too,” Vice Chairman Mark Ericks, D-Bothell said.But if the taxes were spelled out, he doubted  Republicans would have voted for it, anyway.

The House budget proposal moved out of committee on a 12-10, party-line vote.

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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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