Budget “down-payment” will be heard today

OLYMPIA – A bipartisan plan to take a big bite out of the projected $2 billion state budget shortfall will be heard Monday by the House Ways and Means Committee.

The bill, sponsored by Chair Ross Hunter, D-Medina, makes $479.7 million in cuts to the 2011-13 budget, which was initially adopted last spring. Since then, continuing economic stagnation at the national level has resulted in a forecast that revenue will fall nearly $2 billion short of what’s needed to fulfill the budget and provide necessary reserves.

“This bill is a down payment on the overall solution we’ve been working on since September, when it became clear we would have to make major modifications to the budget,” Hunter said.

“It includes administrative cuts across broad areas of the budget, but other areas are left intact for now while we continue to work on solutions to more complex areas.”

Gov. Gregoire called the Legislature into a special session Nov. 28 to address the budget situation. She has released her proposals for $2 billion in reductions, including deep cuts in health, social services, higher education and public schools. The Legislature has been holding hearings on her proposals, taking testimony from people from across the state.

Reaching agreement among Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate on all $2 billion in cuts – including possible restructuring of programs and policies – will require action in the regular legislative session, which starts Jan 9. Hunter’s plan represents a major step toward that goal.

“We’re pleased to have worked out a way to tackle this problem that makes sense for right now,” Hunter said.

The hearing on the measure, PSHB 2058, is scheduled for 3:30 pm. For more details you can read the summary here. (PDF)

Author: Ross

I am the Director of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State. I formerly represented the 48th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives, chairing the Appropriations committee and spent many a year at Microsoft.