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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

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.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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