OLYMPIA – A state budget that increases spending on teacher salaries and programs for homelessness passed the House of Representatives Thursday evening over the objection of critics who said it takes too much from an emergency fund and relies on tax changes that are unlikely to pass.
On a 50-47 mostly party-line vote, Democrats pushed through a budget that dips into the state’s Rainy Day Account for a total of $467 million. While $190 million of that is for the cost of fighting last year’s wildfires, which many lawmakers agree is an emergency, other money would go to programs to combat homelessness and to build more classrooms in public schools.
Democrats contend those, too, are emergencies but Republicans argued they are ongoing problems and should not take money from that special account. The budget also would collect and spend $119 million from six changes to existing tax preferences which have yet to pass. Most have been proposed in previous years and failed, opponents said.
The Senate will be voting in coming days on a very different spending plan. Republicans who control that chamber are proposing no new taxes and taking no money from the Rainy Day Account. Negotiators will then try to develop a compromise budget that can pass both houses by March 10, the final day of the regular session, to avoid going into overtime.