Story Summary

2013 State Budget

By law, the governor is required to present a spending plan for the next biennium. Governor Gregoire, governor-elect Jay Inslee and state legislators weigh in on the plan.

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Local News

State forecasts more revenue than previously expected

olympiaOLYMPIA — The revenue forecast for the Washington state government shows a $368 million general fund revenue increase over the previous forecast last June, the Washington State Office of Financial Management said in a release.

The figures were released Wednesday by the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

The council increased its revenue forecast by $345 million for the 2013-15 biennium, and by about $24 million from the previous 2011-13 biennium. General fund collections are now projected at $33 billion for the new two-year budget cycle, which began July 1.

The director of the Office of Financial Management, David Schumacher, said the marker is a sign economic conditions are improving.

“The economy continues its steady, but slow, improvement and the revenue picture reflects that modest growth,” Schumacher said.

The next revenue forecast is scheduled for release Nov. 20. Gov. Inslee will propose a 2013–15 supplemental budget by Dec. 24.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday signed a $33.6 billion state budget that averted a government shutdown that would have occurred Monday if the Legislature had not finally passed a compromise spending plan.

OLYMPIA — It took 151 days and two special sessions, but state lawmakers on Thursday finally reached a $33.6 billion budget deal that averts a government shutdown that was set to begin Monday.

legislatureGov. Jay Inslee made the announcement with legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle.

“The deal reached today makes it clear that state government will continue to operate,” Inslee said.  “All government functions will be in operations Monday, July 1.”

The deal includes $1 billion more for K-12 education, adds 350,000 people to Medicaid coverage, and implements many reforms to how the state does business — all without a general tax increase.

Inslee took no questions at the brief announcement, but later visited the House Democrats, where he did express his view of the deal, especially the new spending for public schools, which will begin fulfilling last year’s state Supreme Court mandate.

“We have a great down payment on our moral obligation for the paramount duty of the state of Washington,” Inslee said.

But the governor also said the deal involved a great deal of compromise.

“Of course there are things that I didn’t agree with in the budget,” he said.  “There’s some things I would have done differently, but I think it embraces some Washington principles.”

Republicans were happy with the hard-fought deal.

“I feel great,” said Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, the Senate’s chief budget writer. “It’s going to be a great budget.”

Hill was pleased with the added money for K-12, as well as the fact that the budget holds the line on tuition increases at the state’s colleges and universities.  That hasn’t happened since 1986.

“In the last eight years, tuition has doubled,” Hill said. “What that is is a tax on the middle class, on the students and parents.”

Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chairman of the House Budget Committee, attributed the long-delay in reaching a deal to the makeup of the Legislature.

“It’s always hard when you have split control,” he said of the fact that Democrats control the House and Republicans control the Senate.  “We think of the world in very different way.”

On the same day lawmakers reached a deal on the state’s operating budget, there was still vigorous debate about a separate transportation package, including a 10-cent increase in the gas tax.

Despite opposition from Republicans, the 10-cent increase did pass the House, but still faces stiff opposition in the Senate.

olympiaOLYMPIA — State lawmakers said Thursday they reached a deal on a 2013-15 state budget.

Political analyst C.R. Douglas said lawmakers announced they reached terms to a deal around 11:15 a.m. Thursday. A final vote on the deal is expected sometime Friday, and a budget would be passed for the governor to sign by 5 p.m Friday.

Gov. Jay Inslee said the state government successfully avoided a shut down through political compromise.

“Lawmakers have reached an agreement on an operating budget for the next biennium,”  Inslee said. “Washington will be at work Monday.”

David Postman, the communications director for the governor, said he was unsure on the final terms of the budget deal. He also said there were still bills — like a transportation bill and sweeping legislation on harsher DUI penalties — that would be dealt with in the remainder of the special session. However, the operating budget took precedent.

“The operating budget was the most important thing until now,” Postman said.

This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Local News

Issaquah School District waiting for state budget deal

ISSAQUAH — School district officials around the state are in a holding pattern. They can’t figure out their budgets for next year until a deal is reached in Olympia. The Issaquah School District discussed the issue at their meeting Wednesday night.

classStudents may feel like summer is just starting, but parents know the next school year will be here before they know it. That’s why they want state lawmakers to get a budget done.

“Talk is pretty cheap, it’s time for some action,” says Dave Cody. “I hope they get some things done by the end of the summer.”

Sara Niegowski of the Issaquah School District is hoping something gets done way before then

“Because of Olympia’s stretched-out timeline, our timeline gets condensed. So that’s one frustrating thing,” she says.

The district says they have enough money to take care of payroll for the next month. The Seattle School District says it can also get through the summer.

But both districts are hoping last year’s McCleary state Supreme Court decision means more funding will be coming to schools in the fall.  If that’s the case, they need to know now.

“If you want schools to do the really good things with those dollars, we need some heads up and advance planning time,” Niegowski says.

Cody, who’s a teacher, agrees. “Knowing ahead of time what you have for resources can help your organization and planning in getting things done for the students.”

He says that’s what it should be all about. Niegowski knows lawmakers in Olympia have been saying that the past few months, but she says it’s time for them to show they care.

“We’re very happy for the education focus; we would like to get those numbers sooner rather than later,” he said.

Local News

Still no budget deal as state shutdown looms

OLYMPIA — The deal is imminent.

capitolThat has been the word out of Olympia the past several days.

There is still no budget deal, and now the governor’s office is now laying out plans for a state shutdown.

“We are surprised we have gotten to this point in the journey and we were hopeful we would not have to have the conversation,” said Mary Alice Heuschel, Gov. Jay Inslee’s chief of staff.

It’s a conversation no one wants — about what will happen if the state has to shut down on Monday, July 1.

About 25,000 state employees will be furloughed, state parks will close, and millions of residents — including Medicaid patients — will lose state services.

“DSHS will also have to notify tens of thousands of vulnerable adults, children, and the elderly that their services will not be available as of July 1,” Heuschel said.

The only thing that will avoid the shutdown is a budget deal, and, on Wednesday, there were conflicting reports all day from both sides of the aisle.

Around noon, state Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, sent out an e-mail claiming the Senate and House had reached an agreement on the $33 billion budget.

That was immediately shot down, as David Postman, the governor’s spokesman, proclaimed, “There’s not a budget agreement, and I don’t know why that announcement came out when it did.”

There appears to be plenty of agreement on the state funding plan, which includes $1 billion for schools, but there is still debate over a few, smaller details that are holding up the handshake.

“The broad framework of a deal is in place,” said state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the House budget negotiator. “We have made meaningful and substantial progress, but we simply are not yet complete.”

If they don’t get there by midnight Sunday, there will be a lot of pain felt throughout the state, and the governor’s office is now preparing for it.

State budget deal expectedOLYMPIA — First there was a budget deal. Then there wasn’t.

Shortly after Washington state Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom announced that a deal regarding the “framework” on the 2013-15 state budget was reached, House Democrats took to Twitter to refute the claims early Wednesday afternoon.

“The ‘budget framework’ has been in place for several days. Details matter & negotiations are still ongoing. Currently there’s no deal,” Democrats tweeted from the WA Senate Democrats account

Local media appeared confused, as well, with a few TV news stations and newspapers reporting a budget deal was reached. On the heels of the back-and-forth, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office released this statement: 

“I understand that the Senate majority has announced that there is a budget agreement. No one has reported to the governor or his budget director that there is an agreement. And, in fact, the House has told us that it is still negotiating with the Senate at this hour. We believe we are close, but as of now there is more work to be done. I’ll take it as a good sign that the Senate is anxious to make an announcement, but it is premature for anyone to say at this point that a deal has been struck.” 

At the very least, both sides appeared close to a deal at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday. House Rep. Frank Chopp said a deal was still not final, but on its way.

“We’re close but still not there,” Chopp said, before strolling back into caucus for more negotiations.

OLYMPIA — A day after Gov. Jay Inslee said a long-awaited budget deal was “imminent,” state legislative leaders still hadn’t finalized an agreement Tuesday.

“We have a broad conceptual agreement, but we need to get these details right and work through those issues,” Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said late Tuesday afternoon.  “Everybody’s working in a very cooperative manner, so I expect that to continue and for us to be able to finish up here shortly.”

Tom said it was important to make sure everything was thoroughly worked out.  “When we shake, there’s no going back,” he said.

Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, chairman of the House Revenue Committee, also expressed a desire to make sure all the details are worked out when he spoke on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re a large state with a lot of investment in education, other programs,” Carlyle said. “We have to do a lot of paper work as well.  So, we’re hoping to get a handshake.  It’s imminent, as the governor said, but we’re not quite there.”

But many, including legislators, remain frustrated a deal still hasn’t been reached.

“We should have been done by June 1,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle. “We should have a rule moving forward that we get done by June 1.  Period.”

For Frockt, taking budget negotiations all the way to final days of the fiscal year unnecessarily runs the risk of a government shutdown, which would affect thousands of state workers, state services, and state open spaces.

“People start to feel it,” Frockt said. “They go to their state park and it’s closed and they want to go camping for the Fourth of July weekend, that is going to crystalize in people’s minds that these are services that your state is providing and that we’re not getting the work done. That doesn’t help anybody.”

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, there was still no formal handshake on a budget deal. However, all leaders continue to make it clear that a shutdown won’t occur next week.

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