OLYMPIA -- With less than two weeks left in the regular session, the Senate is expected to vote on its version of the supplemental budget Friday, possibly as early as this morning. UPDATE: Debate didn't start until 1:10 p.m., and the budget debate could involve as many as 22 amendments.
The House passed its budget proposal, which relies on closing or limiting six tax exemptions and tapping the Rainy Day Account for $467 million, Thursday evening on a 50-47 vote. It would provide teacher raises to combat a teacher shortage that school districts around the state are facing, spend more on programs to address homelessness and mental health concerns, and set aside more for increased demand for low-income health care.
The Senate budget, as passed by the Ways and Means Committee, is very different, with no tax increases and less money added to public schools, homelessness and mental health programs. It would also spend money from the lottery on charter schools, something proposed and rejected during the House debate Thursday.
If the Senate budget passes -- as expected -- the two very different spending plans will have to be negotiated, reconciled and passed by March 10 for the Legislature to avoid going into overtime.