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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

State House OKs revised budget plan

With time getting short, Senate still must act

Mike Baker Associated Press

OLYMPIA – The state House approved a revised budget plan Thursday night, advancing the new spending plan even though it still lacks support in the state Senate.

With lawmakers entering the final days of a special session, the House voted 53-35 to approve the budget. Republicans in the chamber praised budget writers for dropping a proposed business tax extension but still expressed concern about how the measure was structured.

Democratic Rep. Ross Hunter said the budget moves toward the Senate’s position on some items and the House felt it was time to get the budget process started, since time is running out on the special session. Hunter said that while the budget was not his ideal proposal, he said it makes a substantial investment in the state’s education system.

“This budget is a strong budget,” Hunter said.

As a companion to the budget, the House also voted to add more money to the state’s education system by closing a group of tax preferences, such as requiring nonresidents to apply for sales tax refunds instead of getting them automatically. Republicans, however, complained that the education money should be in the main budget bill and that the taxes should be tied to other parts of state spending. They also opposed an effort to transfer nearly $400 million from the capital budget for public works projects.

The House and Senate have been locked in weeks of fruitless budget negotiations, with a Republican-dominated majority in the Senate opposing any tax changes. Senators have expressed concern about the House plan but also say the two sides are making progress toward a final solution.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said earlier in the day that his chamber had sent over a revised budget proposal for House leaders to consider. He declined to discuss details but said both sides were starting to come together.

“I think both sides are negotiating in good faith and we’re making progress,” Tom said.