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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Ways and Means

Special Session: Afternoon activity for Senate panel

OLYMPIA — It's a sunny day, at least outside the Capitol. As for inside, the outlook may depend on the outcome of this afternoon's Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing, where the growing list includes the operating budget passed yesterday in the House, along with a list of reforms being negotiated between the two parties.

The agenda has been fluid since the meeting was announced yesterday with both time and bills “to be announced.” The blanks began being filled in late yesterday afternoon and Chairman Ed Murray said this morning the operating budget would be added to it.

Senate Democrats are also talking about floor votes Saturday on bills that come out of that committee. But the budget may need significant revisions in order to pass. It's essentially the same one Senate Republicans and their breakway Democratic allies trashed earlier in the week.

Among the reforms being negotiated are changes to the state pension system, combining school employees' health insurance with the state system to save money and eliminating Initiative 728 (the smaller classroom size law passed in 2000 by voters).

That last one is still in the House, which has votes later today.

State budget outlook: Getting less awful, slowly?

OLYMPIA – Good news for the state is the recession is pretty much over. Bad news is won’t seem like the recession is over until the middle of the next year.

That was the assessment Thursday Arun Raha, the state’s chief economist, gave the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

            The panel, as well as all other House and Senate committees, are gathering in Olympia this week to hear what’s happening with the bills they passed this year, and get a preview of what they’ll face next.

What they’ll face is a budget that’s more than $1.2 billion out of balance, even after eating up about $570 million the legislators thought they’d left last spring as an “ending fund balance.” That’s billion with a “b”, or as Ways and Means Chairwoman Margarita Prentice, D-Seattle, put it: “Pretty soon you’re talking real money, right?”

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, in a separate interview, said she’s warned her caucus to expect another tough session with the budget – tougher than last year, because there probably won’t be several billion from the federal government in stimulus 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.

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