Will the State legislature reach agreement on a budget?
This blog was prepared by the United Way lobbyist, Nick Federici
Last week, Governor Gregoire said that a budget deal must be reached immediately in order for the Legislature to act before the special session ends on April 10th. Party leaders and budget writers have met extensively behind closed doors to negotiate, but Wednesday was the first time the full body has convened since special session began in early March. Governor Gregoire said that lawmakers are wrapping up work on a “comprehensive” budget package that encompasses bipartisan proposals, but it is unclear whether enough progress has been made for the various sides to reach agreement in time. In the absence of agreement on the budget proposals and a range of long-term state government spending-reform bills (several new versions of which were heard in the House Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday), the Legislature may need to reconvene for an additional special session, unless the Governor decides to use her existing discretionary authority to trim all existing programs equally with an across-the-board spending cut.
Democrats released new “compromise” versions of their previous budgets that reflect changes in the assumptions as a result of the ongoing negotiations, and including an operating budget proposal (HB 2127) that incorporates the 12 month WCCC authorization and eligibility at 200% of poverty level, adds $1 million to WaKIDS, makes no additional cuts to Medical Care Services, HEN and State Food Assistance. In addition, $70.4 million in Housing Trust Fund allocations to create new housing for homeless and other at-risk populations has been spread over two different bills in the “Jobs Package”. View the new operating budget proposal here and the capital budget proposals here.
To see the press coverage of the Senate Republicans’ (and breakaway Senate Democrat’s) response on the House Democrat’s attempts to find compromise room on the various budget-reform bills click here.