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Government shutdown list in works

OLYMPIA — Despite a slightly better economic forecast and expectations of a budget deal among legislators, Gov. Jay Inslee's office has prepared a list of state services that would and wouldn't be available July 1 if a budget isn't passed.

The preliminary list divides agencies into three categories: No shutdown; partial shutdown and complete shutdown. Among those staying open are the state colleges and universities, the courts and those that receive money from something other than the operating budget, such as the Transportation Department, Innovate Washington, Financial Institutions, Treasurer and Traffic Safety Commission.

Some smaller agencies — the Arts Commission, Public Disclosure Commission, Eastern Historical Society, Liquor Control Board, Human Rights Commission and Indian Affairs — would be among those facing complete shutdown, as would the state Parks.

Partial shutdown is more complicated, but it includes many of the big agencies like Departments of Social and Health Services, Health, Military, Natural Resources, Corrections and State Patrol. But no, the last two don't mean the prisons doors would be thrown open or no one would be writing tickets on I-90.

For a look at the list, click here.

House Democrats offer ‘significant compromise’ budget

Rep. Ross Hunter explains a point in the new House budget proposal, flanked by other Democrats from the Senate and House.

OLYMPIA — House Democrats offered to trim back spending and drop many proposals on taxes as part of a compromise they say would allow the Legislature to pass a 2013-15 operating budget before time runs out in the special session.

The $33.6 billion plan for the next biennium spends an extra $700 million on public schools in an attempt to meet a state Supreme Court mandate, although less than their leaders proposed at the beginning of the year.

It closes fewer tax exemptions and preferences and would not extend a business and occupation tax surcharge or higher taxes on beer that are scheduled to expire at the end of the month. A separate proposal would close or reduce seven tax exemptions, raising an estimated $256 million. That money would be dedicated to specific programs in public schools or colleges if they pass as separate legislation…

 

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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.”