Now that the House and Senate have approved their versions of the 2015-17 budget, legislative budget negotiators will be hard at work trying to come to an agreement before the end of session on April 26.
In his column The Ties That Bind, published in The Inlander on April 1st, guest commentator Paul Dillon laments the growing opposition to Spokane Transit Authority’s Proposition 1 by attacking Washington Policy Center. Mr. Dillon’s statement about Washington Policy Center is wrong in a number of ways.
State lawmakers are debating the merits of an idea called the “levy swap,” in which Olympia would take the money people now pay in local school taxes and redistribute it statewide, while in turn reducing the taxes people pay to local school districts. Still, most parents would likely be upset if they found out the taxes they voted for local schools were going to Olympia instead.
Lawmakers in both chambers debated their respective proposals for a 2015-17 state spending plan this week, shortly after unveiling and holding public hearings on them.
The House version promoted by majority Democrats, Substitute House Bill 1106, proposes nearly $39 billion in spending and $1.4 billion in new taxes. It passed after a few hours of debate by a 51-47 party line vote on Thursday. The House did not act, however, on the tax-increase bills needed to pay for the proposal.
Spokane Transit officials want to increase taxes on Spokane-area families to fund their proposed "Moving Forward" plan, which includes a $72 million electric trolley project. Spokane-area voters will consider the ballot measure on April 28th.
In the effort to convince voters to say "yes," it appears even the "Yes For Buses" transit campaign is confused about what exactly their measure would do.
While advocates of increasing the minimum wage claim it is a win-win for employers (because people will have more money to spend) and employees (who will earn a higher wage), the reality is much different.
Increasing the minimum wage comes with undeniable trade-offs.
Today is the last day for House and Senate committees to advance policy bills from the opposite chamber. Next Tuesday, April 7 is the last day for budget and transportation bills to be voted out of committee. Lawmakers will now focus on passing a two-year budget for 2015-17. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year in 25 days.
The budget cards are now on the table. Now we'll see if House and Senate budget negotiators can find a winning hand to get out of Olympia with a budget agreement by April 26. We're still reviewing the details of the proposals but here are a couple of first impressions.
The House Appropriations Committee had scheduled a public hearing on the House version of the 2015-17 state operating budget for 1:30 p.m. today—just two hours after presenting it for the first time at a press conference in Olympia. Another meeting was scheduled for Saturday, possibly to pass the proposal out of committee.
In a letter on Wednesday, House Republican leaders urged House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) to allow more time for the public to review the hundreds of pages of the budget proposal before a public hearing.
House Democrats released their budget today and the revenue from the Governor's proposed cap-and-trade carbon policy is not included. Bills necessary to implement the budget are never truly dead, but the exclusion of cap-and-trade from the House budget means the Governor's carbon policy is fundamentally dead.
Senator Michael Baumgartner (R- Spokane) has introduced SB 6079, to allow families that choose to receive up to $5,000 of the average $7,400 in public money the state spends per child. Parents can use the money to access educational services for children at public or private schools. SB 6079 would help lawmakers fulfill the key purpose of education funding, to meet the paramount duty of providing for the education of every child residing in the state.
Today was going to be like just any other budget rollout day in Olympia. A short press conference highlighting a summary of a budget proposal running hundreds of pages long and spending billions of dollars (not to mention potential new tax increases being proposed). Then just a few hours later Washingtonians were to be expected to have read, digested, and traveled to Olympia to offer public testimony on the proposed spending plan for their tax dollars.