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OLYMPIA -- Senate Republicans pushed through a rule that will require a supermajority to bring any new tax proposal to the floor for a vote.
OLYMPIA -- Legislators being sworn in for the start of the 2015 Legislature.
OLYMPIA – The Washington Legislature will spend much of the 2015 session debating how much to spend to cover the cost of “basic education” in the state’s public schools. That may cause many Washington residents to ask, “What’s basic education?” It’s more than the old “3 Rs,” but how much more is whatever the Legislature says it is, providing it supplies enough money to satisfy the state Supreme Court.
Two GOP senators suggest rule change to require super-majority on tax votes.
For the first time in seven years, something beat out "the economy" as the top issue for the Legislature. This year, it's education.
After another “flat” budget proposal from the state, leaders at Spokane’s Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture say it’s time for the institution to cut most formal ties with Olympia. The museum currently receives most of its annual $2.6 million operating budget from the state, and the 2015-17 budget proposal from Gov. Jay Inslee essentially maintains that level. If the museum’s vision of decommissioning itself as a state agency is acted on, the state would maintain the MAC’s buildings and facilities, and the museum would independently control its collections, fundraising and programming.
OLYMPIA – Around the Capitol, the debate over physician education in Spokane is sometimes called the Apple Cup for medical schools. Although some take sides as they do for the annual football game between the University of Washington and Washington State University, many state politicians – from Gov. Jay Inslee down – are wary of picking a favorite in the controversy over competing medical school plans for Spokane.
OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled a budget proposal that would spend $2.3 billion more for public schools, strengthen mental health and child welfare systems, boost parks and implement tougher environmental rules. He’d pay for it with a string of new and increased taxes, along with cuts and savings in existing programs.
OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee is undecided on how medical school education should expand in Spokane. The budget he will unveil Thursday and send next month to the Legislature currently has no new money for medical school plans by either of the state’s two research universities. “At this point we’re not saying yes or no to the medical school in Spokane,” Budget Director David Schumacher said a few hours before Inslee was scheduled to discuss his priorities for public schools and colleges at Internet-connected town hall meetings.
OLYMPIA – The axiom that elections have consequences is much in evidence in the capital these days as the Senate’s new Republican majority rearranges the deck chairs. Although they have kept the title “Majority Coalition Caucus” in an apparent nod to Sen. Tim Sheldon, the one Democrat in their midst, gone is any suggestion of power-sharing with the remainder of the minority Democrats. All committee chairmen or chairwomen are Republicans, as one would expect when a party has enough seats to decide most issues by itself.
OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal for the next two years will include a request for $1 billion or more in higher taxes along with some program cuts, a delay of some new school spending approved by voters and raises for state employees. Inslee will unveil the details of his budget plans for the second half of his term over four days next week. But in a discussion Tuesday with reporters, State Budget Director David Schumacher said without some new taxes the cuts to state programs would be “horrible.”
OLYMPIA – The Washington Legislature may direct medical schools to expand the number of physician residencies in Eastern Washington to provide more doctors for rural communities and family practice. Rep. Larry Haler, the top Republican on the House Higher Education Committee, told representatives of the University of Washington on Friday that he isn’t happy with the number of medical residents training in Eastern Washington. Of the 1,500 residencies in the state, 1,400 are in the Seattle metropolitan area, he said. They need to be spread toward the east side of the state, “and by that I’m not talking about the Bellevue area,” he added.
A pair of Spokane lawmakers will propose legislation to establish the state’s second medical school in Spokane and put it under the control of Washington State University. Rep. Marcus Riccelli, a Democrat, and Sen. Mike Baumgartner, a Republican, are to unveil legislation this morning that would change a nearly century-old law that limits medical education to the University of Washington. Their proposal also provides $2.5 million for WSU to seek accreditation for the new school on the Riverpoint Campus, which would concentrate on family and rural medicine disciplines.
OLYMPIA – Ritzville Republican Mark Schoesler was elected the Senate majority leader Monday for the upcoming 2015 session. Officially, Schoesler will head the Majority Coalition Caucus, a group of 25 Republicans and one Democrat that will control the chamber.