OLYMPIA – The House is moving forward Wednesday with a short list of bills that will be necessary to implement (NTIB) the supplemental operating budget. Although an agreement on the final budget has not yet been reached, the House Democratic negotiating team wants to get the ball rolling.
“We have been negotiating in good faith practically every day of this special session,” said House Ways and Means Chair Ross Hunter (D-Medina). “We’ve taken significant steps toward the Republican position, and are still willing to discuss the final sticking points, but the time has come to act as well as talk.”
“We will also be placing a striking amendment to the budget on the bar Wednesday morning,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (D- Covington), “and we plan to take action on it later this week. The length of time it takes to pass a budget through both chambers means we have to begin moving things now.”
The list of bills includes:
• HB 2824: Initiative 728/Basic Education Study – Creates a joint task force to help the legislature meet the requirements of the McCleary decision and repeals I-728 in order to make revenues available for the implementation of basic education reform and for funding the reform recommendations of the task force.
• HB 2822: Working Capital Reserve – Modernizes the way the local government portion of the sales tax is handled.
• HB 2827: 2-year Balanced Budget and 4-year Outlook – Creates the statutory requirement that the current biennium budget be balanced and requires the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council to produce a 4-year outlook with clear assumptions.
• PSHB 2823: Revenue Consolidation – Directs the Solid Waste Tax to the operating budget in the current and next biennia, retains the Education Construction Account portion of the lottery funds in the operating budget until the 2015-17 biennium, directs increased liquor profits to the general fund, moves the Public Utility Tax and the Real Estate Excise Tax from the capital to the operating budget and transfers funds from the Public Works Assistance Account back to the capital budget.
• HB 2825: Pension Changes – Eliminates the early retirement factors granted in 2007 for new employees, and creates a study to look at potential options for front-line workers who face significant danger and physical requirements.
• HB 2829: K-12 Employee Health Benefits – Begins to reduce the disparity in employee premiums for family coverage compared to single premiums, improve transparency in school employee health information, and increase equity in access to benefits for all K-12 employees.
• HB 2828: Child Support Enforcement Requirements/Child Care – Corrects an oversight in SSB 6386 that made a change in one agency, but not in all the places it needed to.
• HB 2830: Interpreters – Adds clarifying language concerning the collective bargaining rights of language access providers.
• HB 2826: Community Supervision – Changes the state’s community supervision violation program, realigning resources to increase the use of evidence-based practices and building on the success of the King County pilot project.
Hunter’s committee will hold a public hearing on the bills Wednesday at 1:00 pm and they could be voted on by the House as early as Thursday.
“Not every one of these bills may pass,” he said. “But if we’re going to get a budget out by Easter, it’s time to find out.”