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Posts tagged: supplemental budget

Inslee signs most of ‘disappointing’ budget

OLYMPIA – The ink from his signature wasn’t even dry on the Legislature's current budget before Gov. Jay Inslee was challenging lawmakers to do more on their next one.

Inslee signed the state’s supplemental operating budget, vetoing some elements such as a section that would have ended the Life Sciences Discovery Fund.

Overall, he called it a budget with “modest adjustments” in many programs and disappointing on education.

“It does not make sufficient progress on the state’s paramount duty to schools,” he said.

Legislators are also disappointed, but more with Inslee’s characterization of their final work product that passed the Senate 48-1 and the House 85-13. Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, said the spending plan, as a supplement to last year’s two-year budget that added almost $1 billion to public schools, was supposed to make modest adjustments.

But it keeps the state in the black, financially, through this fiscal period and the next, Braun said.

“There were a lot of tough decisions that had to be made,” he said… .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Supplemental budget passes

OLYMPIA — Barely six hours after it was unveiled to the public, the Legislature passed the 2014 supplemental budget and sent it to Gov. Jay Inslee.

The budget passed the House 85-13, and the Senate 48-1. For a full report, go inside the blog.

Budget deal released

OLYMPIA — A supplemental budget that raises no taxes, offers no new tax loopholes and provides no state-funded raises for teachers is expected to be pushed through the Legislature today on a fast track.

Budget negotiators unveiled their negotiated spending plan to the public at lunchtime, using words like “modest”, “stable” and “pretty small.”

It will send an extra $58 million to public schools around the state for books and supplies. It will spend an extra $25 million on Opportunity Scholarships for college students, $22 million on mental health services and $4 million to expand prison capacity.

But some items that prompted major political arguments over the last two months are not in the budget. There is no cost-of-living adjustment for public school teachers, something Democrats in both chambers said they wanted. There are no new taxes, or increases of existing taxes, that would have paid for those raises. There are no major new or extended tax exemptions, which were supported by Republicans.

It is a traditional supplemental budget, legislators said, making small adjustments in the two-year spending plan approved in 2013 after two extensions to that legislative session. It is unlike recent supplemental budgets, which were essentially rewrites of previous spending plans made inoperable because of changing revenue estimates in the recession.

And it leaves until next year a  major fight over public schools, which the Legislature is under a state Supreme Court mandate to improve. The Legislature will need to come up with at least $2.2 billion for school programs, and perhaps another $1 billion for school employee wages, for the 2015-17 biennium to satisfy that court order. 

The budget is scheduled to be put to a vote in the House late this afternoon and be sent to the Senate for a vote later in the evening. That means the Legislature will suspend several rules that allow time for the public to see legislation, and for members to read and consider it.


No budget rollout until Thursday

OLYMPIA — The Legislature will start the last day of its scheduled session without showing the public its supplemental budget.

The budget, which is the update of the biennial budget passed last year, is said to be close, with only relatively small things in the way of a handshake between negotiators. Plans as of Wednesday evening call for the final product to be unveiled in caucus meetings for both chambers around 10 am. and a public roll out after that. For niggling clock-watchers, that means the Legislature will have something less than 14 hours to pass the budget, without amendment, in both chambers.  Plus any ancillary legislation that changes things that will be needed to make the budget work.

They have until midnight, and there's a good chance they'll need it.

The budget, in its current iteration, is 292 pages long. That raises the obvious question: How many legislators will read the whole thing before voting on it?



Budget still ‘A work in progress’

OLYMPIA — Here's a bad sign for anyone expecting the Legislature to conclude its business by midnight Thursday: Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler this morning described the supplemental budget, and two controversial bills, as “a work in progress.”

Budget leaders of both chambers have been negotiating differences in the supplemental budgets passed by the House and Senate. No deal has been announced yet, and time is running out to do the work of double-checking and printing the massive spending document before the deal can be introduced in the Senate for a vote.

Two other controversial issues, a bill to add scores on statewide tests for students to teacher evaluations, and the continuation of a fee on document recordings to help projects to fight homelessness, were on a list of bills presented to the Rules Committee as items the Senate could take up today. When Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson said her caucus has problems with both bills, Schoesler said they are, like the budget, a work in progress.

That prompted a question from Lt. Gov. Brad Owen as to when the Legislature might adjourn for good.

The state Constitution, Schoesler said, says it will sine die by midnight Thursday.

“That wasn't my question,” Owen replied. Schoesler offered no response, and the Rules Committee approved the list of bills for floor action.

If the Legislature doesn't pass a budget before midnight Thursday, or has other major issues hanging fire, they could be called back into an overtime session by Gov. Jay Inslee.


House passes budget with teacher raises

OLYMPIA — In a prelude to end-of-session budget negotiations, the House dumped the Senate's no-new-taxes budget that extended some tax loopholes for businesses, replacing it with a plan to spend an extra $140 million on education and other programs, partly by raising several taxes.

Democrats and Republicans traded charges of who was being irresponsible in making plans to raise money and spend it. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.


Senate passes budget plan

OLYMPIA – With strong bipartisan support, the Senate passed a budget plan that was described by supporters and opponents more for what it doesn't do than what it does.

It doesn't put state spending out of balance, doesn't raise taxes or college tuition, supporters said. It doesn't offer raises to public school teachers and doesn’t do enough toward meeting the court order to improve public education, opponents countered.

Both sides agreed the budget discussion will continue for the next two weeks… .


WA Lege Day 44: Senate Dems offer education tax package

OLYMPIA — A day after some of their members showed support for a no new taxes budget “update” with few changes to existing state spending plans, Senate Democrats unveiled a more ambitious, and politically difficult — proposal to end four tax breaks and raise $100 million for schools.

Their hope: in the 16 days left in the session — or some time before an April 30 deadline to tell the state Supreme Court how the Legislature plans to improve state schools — they can get both houses to settle on this plan or something close to it. They'd give teachers a cost-of-living raise, give schools more money for books, labs and heating bills, speed up the move to all-day kindergarten and shrink the size of Second Grade classes in high poverty areas. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog. 


Senate budget plan ‘simply an update’

OLYMPIA – Public schools would get more money for math and science supplies and state colleges would keep tuition from going up in a proposal released by the Senate budget writers.

But there would be no major new expenses, no cost-of-living raises for teachers, no new taxes and no closing of tax loopholes under the supplemental budget with a net increase of $96 million to the $33.6 billion two-year spending plan approved last year.

“Last year we did the heavy lifting,” Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Andy Hill, R-Redmond, said. “This is just simply an update” . . . 

To read more about the Senate budget proposal, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

To get further details on the proposal, check out the documents below.


Inslee unveils supplemental budget today

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee will introduce his proposal for changes in the 2013-15 biennial budget this morning at 11 a.m.

Inslee doesn't have much to work with. Forecasts for the remainder of the biennium project only slight changes in revenue, with continued slow economic growth. The level of uncertainty is rated as “extremely high” where “downside risks outweigh upside risks.”

The supplemental budget is the prelude to the 2014 legislative session, which starts Jan. 13.

WA Lege Day 40: Gov signs short-term budget

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire signed most of the supplemental budget designed to keep Washington from slipping into red ink by June 30, using her veto pen for several sections that added back $6.4 million of spending.

She said she liked the Legislative spending plan better than the budget she proposed in December, because it saves several social programs she would have eliminated and cuts less from education. But those may be temporary reprieves, she warned.

“I don't want to suggest it will necessarily last for the next biennium,” Gregoire said. (For details on the budget, click here._

Among the sections vetoed were a provision to impose a 3 percent pay cut starting April 1 on state employees who aren't represented by organized labor. Union state employees face a similar reduction starting July 1, although it's  not a straight pay cut but an agreement to work about 5 hours less per month, with corresponding drop in pay. The union agreement also spares those who make less than $30,000 a year from the cut, something the Legislature didn't do for non-union employees,.

“As the state's CEO, I have to treat my employees equally,” she said.

Gregoire also vetoed a provision to reduce the communications staffs in the executive branch by about $1 million, noting that a similar cut was not being ordered for legislative communication staffs, and a $1.7 million reduction proposed for the Department of Social and Health Services management, that she said would cost the state matching federal money and the department had already had a 27 percent cut in centralized administrative staff.

WA Lege Day 40: House passes supplemental budget

OLYMPIA — The House passed the state's “middle action” supplemental budget, shrinking the state's projected deficit with some $242 million in cuts.

In a 55-41 vote along partisan lines, the House gave final approval to the bill, which now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature.

Democrats argued it was an imperfect bill. “There's certainly something in this budget for everyone to hate,” House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said.

Republicans contended it took money from education, which is the state's paramount duty under the state Constitution, and gave it to social programs that aren't working well. “This budget is living in the past. It lacks the substantive reform needed to move into the future,” Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, said.

WA Lege Day 40:House takes up supplemental buldget

OLYMPIA — The House of Representative is debating the supplemental budget, which was passed earlier by the Senate and can't be amended. Democrats appear to have the votes to pass it but Republicans plan to argue as much as possible against it.

It's being described as a “very unpleasant budget” by supporters, and of questionable morality by detractors.

Details on the budget, from this morning's newspaper story, can be found by clicking here.

WA Lege Day 40: Senate passes budget

OLYMPIA — The state Senate passed a supplemental budget this morning that cuts about $242 million from planned state spending through the end of June.

With little debate, the Senate gave 37-10 approval to the spending plan, which helps ease but doesn't completely solve the estimated deficit in the state's General Fund Operating Budget. For more details on the budget deal, click here.

After bipartisan support in the Senate, the budget bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where the Republican caucus is solidly opposed and may try to slow its progress.

WA Lege Day 39: Budget deal signed by committee

OLYMPIA — A supplemental budget agreement between the House and Senate, which cuts an estimated $242 million in projected state spending between now and June 30, was approved by a special conference committee this morning

That means it will go to the chambers for an up or down vote, without amendments, in the next few days. Senate Democrats and Republicans and House Democrats signed off on the deal; House Republicans were noticeably absent. Rep. Gary Alexander of Olympia, lead Republican budget writer, said Wednesday it had things they wouldn't agree to.

The 4-page breakdown explains the differences with previous budget plans by Gov. Chris Gregoire, the House and the Senate. Here are some highlights:

It cuts $58.6 million from K-12 education. The largest cuts come from programs that shrunk class sizes in grades K-4 and money given to “safety net adjustment” programs.

Colleges get a $26 million cut, the largest in a plan to shift responsibility for student financial aid.

Health Care gets a $47 million cut. The Basic Health Plan, which Gregoire had proposed eliminating, survives with lower eligibility levels, but all state funding for Part D Medicare co payments are eliminated. The Child Health Program also remains, but only for families at 200 percent of poverty level or below. Those between 200 percent and 300 percent of poverty level (the current cut off) can stay in the program if they pay the premiums. The Disability Lifeline continues, but with lower cash grants and housing vouchers. The average Lifeline cash grant would go from $235 to $173.

Long-term Care, Developmental Disability and Mental Health programs would be cut $70.5 million, with a $19 million cut in payments for personal care and a $12.6 million cut in payments that cover services not covered by Medicaid.

Other Human Services face cuts totalling $43.5 million on a wide range of programs ranging from Food assistance to alcohol and drug addiction to refugee employment..

Combined with some $125 million in transfers into the General fund from other accounts, the spending plan would erase $367.4 million in projected red ink. But the projected shortfall is about $600 million, so another supplemental budget — technically a supplemental-supplemental-supplemental considering a Special Legislative session passed one supplemental in December and this would be the second in three months — will be necessary at some point.

“Baby steps,” Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, a member of the conference committee, said.

WA Lege Day 38: Supplemental budget deal reached

OLYMPIA — Legislative negotiators have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to cut hundreds of millions from the state's budget through the end of June. It could get a vote in the Senate on Friday morning.

The bill reportedly has the support of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, and House Democrats. House Republicans are likely to vote no because it doesn't cut enough from Basic Health and the Disability Lifeline programs.

Republican leaders of both chambers acknowledged the budget agreement at a noon press conference. Although a copy of the bill is not  yet available, Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield, the top Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said it would tighten up on qualifications for the Basic Health plan which provides state-supported health care to low income residents, reduce the income limits for families enrolling kids into the Children's Health Program, and reduce cash grants while still providing housing vouchers and some health care to participants in the Disability Lifeline.

Zarelli described it as “not enough and too late, but it's something.”

It has some retroactive cuts to K-12 school funding, which will cost it GOP support in the House, Rep. Gary Alexander of Olympia, top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee: “We can't go there.”

House Republicans also wanted lower income limits on the Basic Health program and the end of all cash grants on Disability Lifeline participants.  

But unless they can pull in a significant number of House Democrats, the proposal seems likely to pass, through a non-amendable conference committee report, that will hit the Senate floor Friday.

WA Lege Day 25: House to counter Senate budget

OLYMPIA — The next debate over the state's supplemental budget won't be between Republicans and Democrats as much as between the Senate and the House.

House leaders said Friday afternoon they will make changes to the spending plan the Senate sent them a few hours earlier. Among the changes they foresee: keeping cash grants for disabled residents on the Disablity Lifeline program and covering more low-income children through the Children's Health Plan.

Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, the House majorityi leader, said the two chambers are fairly close on some other issues, including finding a way to keep some state residents in the Basic Health Plan. But the House wants to do just one more supplemental budget that covers the entire shortfall, estimated at about $600 million by June 30. (Note: Due to a reporter's error, the blog originally misidentified Sullivan as head of the budget committee.)

The Senate called the budget it approved Friday an installment — it leaves for later about $200 million much of which could be covered by the Legislature agreeing to delay state payments to schools from the last day of this biennium to the first day of the next biennium.

WA Lege Day 25: Senate passes supplemental budget

OLYMPIA — A budget plan referred to as a $254 million installment in the state's fiscal crisis passed the state Senate this morning on a bipartisan vote.

The plan achieves some of its savings by retroactively cutting support of smaller classes for kindergarten through 4th Grade across the state, reductions in the state's Basic Health Care, Children's Health Program and Disability Lifeline. It now goes to the House, which has passed a spending plan with about $30 million less in cuts. Along with the quarter-billion dollars in cuts, the plan moves another $122 million from other state funds into the General Fund Operating Budget, which pays for the widest array of state programs and services.

The budget proposal, which was negotiated by the two parties budget leaders, passed on a 38-9 bipartisan vote. But it wasn't without its critics.

Among those voting no was freshman Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, who said the proposal doesn't go far enough.

“It didn't solve the entire problem. This budget crisis should have been solved long ago,” Baumgartner said.

Leaders of the budget committee acknowledged they had more cuts to make to keep the state from ending its biennium on June 30 in the red.

“It's not a solution to the crisis we're in, it's an installment on the way to that solution,” Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said. “This fiscal crisis is not subsiding any time soon.”

Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, said policy discussions on the long-term future of many state programs will occur when the Legislature tackles a two-year spending plan for a budget period that begins July 1: “Today we're just talking about how do we balance the books at the end of the year.”

Even if the proposed cuts worth $254 million pass the House and are signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, the state will still need to find another $200 million or so in savings. That could mean more cuts, or some accounting procedures that move money between different funds or delaying a large payment due on June 30 for one day.

WA Lege Day 23: Senate budget deal in works

OLYMPIA — State Senate budget writers have what's being described as a $254 million bipartisan budget agreement that could get a vote yet this week.
Just hours before a Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing, Chairman Ed Murray released a plan to cut more than either the House or Gov. Chris Gregoire previously proposed, but still keep some pieces of the Basic Health Care, the Children’s Health Program and the Disability Lifeline.
“This is another installment in a huge budget crisis in a huge economic crisis, ” Murray, D-Seattle, told reporters. “In a crisis this big, everybody gets cut.”
The plan reduces General Fund spending by some $254 million through June 30. It does that in part by reducing Basic Health Care through an enrollment freeze and new eligibility tests that include a valid Social Security Number; freezing enrollment in Children’s Health and dropping eligibility to families at 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less, down from 250 percent; eliminating cash payments for those in the Disability Lifeline program but retaining their medical coverage.
It also transfers some $25 million the colleges receive in tuition from students into financial aid. It makes smaller cuts to the public school budget by keeping some money for smaller classes in kindergarten through 4th grade but cuts some $23.5 million in “safety net” programs from schools.
It has a 3 percent salary reduction for non-union state employees that would start in April, three months earlier than the governor's plan. It also moves $6 million in profits from liquor sales into training for corrections officers in the wake of the murder of an officer at the Monroe facility last weekend.
The proposal was worked out with Republican Sens. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield and Mark Schoesler of Ritzville, Murray said. They must still sell it to their caucus just as he must sell it to the Democrats. He would expect the proposal to pass with support from both parties.
“If we don't have a good count out of both caucuses, the agreement will shift,” Murray said. The full Senate could vote on it before the end of the week, and the Ways and Means Committee will be asked to vote on it Thursday.
The state’s General Fund budget was estimated in November to be about $1.1 billion out of balance through the end of June, and the state can’t run a deficit. In a special one-day session in December, the Legislature cut about $600 million, leaving another $500 million to be cut for the remaining six months of this biennium.
The latest Senate proposal cuts about $254 million, compared to $242 million in  Gregoire’s proposal and $222 million in a plan approved by the Democratic majority in the House without Republican support.


Senate budget proposal likely next week — Brown

OLYMPIA — The state Senate will vote on its version of a budget to carry the state through the end of June, a plan that will likely keep several social service programs Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed cutting, Majority Leader Lisa Brown said today.

At a press conference, the Spokane Democrat said the proposal, known as an early action supplemental budget, will try to keep “social safety net” programs like  Basic Health, the Disability Lifeline, Maternity Support, ADATSA drug and alcohol treatment, but at lower levels.

Republican and Democratic budget experts are still working on the details, she said, and it will have some differences from the House version passed this week. “It can't be too dramatically different because there's n ot that much left.”

Brown also questioned a portion of the House Democrats' plan to cover some costs of Basic Health insurance for low income residents through private money sources. “Where is it? I don 't think anybody's identified that private money.”

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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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