Around 7 p.m. last night the Senate's top budget writers released their proposal for the 2011-13 budget. The public hearing for the bill is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today. In a rare display of budget bipartisanship, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee gave a joint press conference to announce the details.
Here is the video of the Senate budget roll-out:
Both Senators Ed Murray and Joe Zarelli are to be commended for putting together a thoughtful, serious budget proposal to help put the state back on the path toward sustainable budgeting.
We'll be spending the next few days reading the bill line-by-line to analyze the full details.
Based on the balance sheet, of the three legislative budget proposals, the House Republicans' spends the least while the Senate proposal leaves the most savings in the protected Rainy-Day account.
|Senate||House D||House R|
|March NGFS Revenue Forecast||31,907||31,907||31,907|
Under the title "Making the Budget Sustainable," Senate budget writers say:
"The actions taken in the Senate budget recognize the fiscal reality that necessitates making significant reductions in state services and programs. At the same time, the Senate's approach is to partially use the fiscal downturn as an opportunity to put the state on more sound fiscal footing. While some of these initiatives will have an immediate impact on the state budget, many of these efforts are designed to make for more sustainable state budgeting in the future.
Initiatives in the Senate approach include: (1) Senate Joint Resolution 8215 (debt reduction act of 2011) which reduces bonded construction debt and provides more predictable debt service payments associated with the capital budget; (2) Senate Joint Resolution 8206 (extraordinary revenue growth) which sets aside extraordinary revenue growth into the Budget Stabilization Account; (3) ending the automatic cost of living increase for retirees in the older pension plans which reduces long term liability; (4) reforming the Guaranteed Education Tuition Program to make it more sustainable and less likely to need general fund-state support; (5) modifying the retire-rehire program; and (6) changing tuition policy to provide additional flexibility and to allow for longer term fiscal planning by institutions of higher education."
Counting Easter Sunday, there are only 12 days left in the 2011 Legislative Session. This means the developments around the House and Senate budget proposals will be fast and furious. Since the Senate proposal appears to be middle ground between the House Democrat version that passed the body and the House Republican alternative, it could be the ticket to a bipartisan budget agreement and the end of session on time.