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OLYMPIA – Washington Republicans wasted little time trying to draw connections between a Democratic Senate loss in Massachusetts and political prospects in the Evergreen State. Washington Democrats conceded that the loss of a supermajority in the U.S. Senate complicates plans in the Legislature. They can’t expect Congress to adopt health care reform or a stimulus package before they have to patch a $2.6 billion budget hole and leave town.
OLYMPIA – A Spokane-area delegation on its annual pilgrimage to the state capital got a consistently downbeat message this week: Don’t expect money for new programs or projects. “The message is being reinforced: There is no money,” Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said as she waited outside the marble-walled state reception room. It’s a message that comes as no surprise, but may be good for some people to hear repeated, she said.
Lisa Brown’s office, just off the floor of the Washington state Senate chambers, was abuzz last week with legislators, staff and people who needed a few minutes to talk about something that would be coming up during the session that starts today. The Spokane Democrat has served 17 years in the Legislature, 13 of them in the state Senate. This session, Brown’s fifth as Senate majority leader, is short on days and long on problems: Even-numbered years are limited to 60 days, and Washington’s budget is an estimated $2.6 billion out of balance. The Spokesman-Review sat down with Brown last week.
OLYMPIA – There are two relatively famous quotes that come to mind as the Legislature rumbles toward opening day Monday. One is the standard axiom that no man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the Legislature is in session. That line has probably been uttered in every state capital since it was written down by Gideon Tucker in 1866.
Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed all-cuts, no-new-taxes budget – far from a done deal – was described as everything from a good starting point to an unrealistic plan Wednesday in a Spokane forum. Democratic leaders told the Greater Spokane Inc. Legislative Forum they don’t agree with all the cuts proposed in the budget, which state law requires the governor to produce before the legislative session starts in January.
As the sun baked the nearly 100 guests gathered on the rooftop patio of the historic Saranac Building Monday evening, one couldn't help but grin at the irony of feeling Mother Nature's wrath on top of one of only five buildings in the state that returns that wrath less.
OLYMPIA – It always astounds me how quickly the state capital becomes a ghost town when a legislative session ends. On Sunday, lobbyists were still swarming the Senate and House doors. Lawmakers rushed toward midnight in a mad scramble of last-minute deals, deadlocks and dead bills.
OLYMPIA – Washington House Speaker Frank Chopp said Thursday that there’s a “better than 50-50” chance that voters will be asked to approve a sales tax increase this fall. As envisioned now, the tax increase would be one-third of 1 percentage point more, or an extra 33 cents on a $100 purchase. It would bring in millions of dollars to help offset budget cuts to hospitals, nursing homes and health care programs.
OLYMPIA – For years in Washington’s capital, state income tax proposals have been viewed much like those periodic bills to declare Eastern Washington a 51st state. They’re attention-getters aimed at spurring a discussion. No one expects them to actually pass. This year’s different.
OLYMPIA – After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations and speculation, the state Senate on Monday proposed a two-year plan to bridge Washington’s $9 billion budget shortfall. As predicted, it includes some dramatic cuts.
OLYMPIA – In a sign of the times, Washington’s House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would ban cities and counties from barring recreational vehicles from mobile home parks. “Mobile home parks are often a last refuge for these people to live,” said Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland.