To paraphrase Dirty Harry: I know what you're thinking. "Did lawmakers truly balance the budget and build in enough flexibility to deal with economic turmoil in Europe and an uncertain U.S. economy, or are we one forecast away from another special session?" Seeing how this is a $31.1 billion budget, balanced using accounting changes and reversions while leaving only a $46 million unrestricted ending fund balance, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, taxpayer?
When is a budget cut not a budget cut? When agencies still have the authority to spend money but lawmakers assume agencies won't spend all of it. This budget "reversion" philosophy isn't built entirely on blind faith, however, but on historical trends.
Showing it's never too late (or early) for lawmakers to come to agreement on bill language, during the early hours of the 2nd Special Session of 2012 a compromise was reached on SB 5940 (Regarding reforms to school employee benefits purchasing).
One of the most contentious proposals the Legislature considered this year was the plan to reform the state's pension system. The compromise bill ultimately agreed to (SB 6378) was adopted by a vote of 56-42 in the House and 27-22 in the Senate.
This morning's GMAP (Government Management Accountability and Performance) meeting was a good example of why I love this process. The hands-on executive management takes government off auto-pilot and forces agencies to be reflective and responsive to the performance expectations of the Governor. My hope is that the next Governor will continue GMAP and not let this management tool fall by the wayside.
Starting with the 2017-19 budget, Washington will have one of the toughest balanced budget requirements in the country, assuming lawmakers don't amend or repeal the statutory protections created by SB 6636.
Based on an email update from Washington Education Association (WEA) President Mary Lindquist, it looks like Washington school children will soon be learning a new version of "how a bill becomes a law." Here is what she told WEA members:
Interesting compare and contrast between the Governor's last two press conference on the budget deal.
The first clip is from her April 11 early morning statements about calling the 2nd Special Session and no one needing to worry about additional time to review the details in the budget because there weren't any "surprises":