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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Second special session update

Yet once again the legislature is in special session to fix the budget problems of overspending. Endless increases in fees and taxes is the current "solution" offered by the Democrats.

The following front-lines report is from Cary Condotta.

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We are in the second week of the special session. The plan is for legislative budgetwriters to meet most of this week to see if some type of agreement can be reached. There are a lot of rumors circulating, which isn’t uncommon when not much is happening. There is plenty to speculate on, especially when the key players are meeting in closed quarters.

Among the things we are hearing:
  • The majority party is waiting to see if the courts overturn Initiative 1053 decision so they could raise taxes with a simple majority. You can read more about the status of the lawsuit in The Seattle Times story: King County court hears tax initiative lawsuit. Some believe if the court overturns the initiative, it would give the majority a small window to pass some revenue (tax and fee) bills to generate additional monies to make up for the shortfall.
  • The governor has come up with a proposal that would keep sales-tax revenue collected on behalf of local governments in the state’s general fund longer. That could free up $238 million for spending elsewhere. You can read The Olympian article: Legislature considers new maneuver for fixing budget.
The cities and counties seem to be alright with the governor’s proposal and the State Treasurer says it is better method of handling the state’s cash. Whether or not this will solve the budget problem we will have to wait and see. The governor’s idea was just made public late yesterday. Only more time will tell if this or any of the other things we are hearing hold much merit.

What we do know is that the Senate already passed a budget with a philosophical majority – the 22 Senate Republicans and three Democrats. The support for that budget may have increased since they have adjusted their spending plan, particularly the increase in spending on education and higher education.

House Republicans unveiled their own all-priorities budget on Feb. 17 and there are many similarities to the Senate Republican budget. I don’t think the Senate Republican budget is perfect but it is something we can certainly work off of and we only need eight votes from across the aisle in the House. That isn’t many, but House Speaker Frank Chopp has to be willing to consider all ideas and let philosophical majorities come together. And, his caucus is the only one that doesn’t seem to be at the table or willing to budge from their spending plan.
The taxpayers deserve a fiscally responsible budget that addresses our shortfall within existing revenues and doesn’t push the debt into future biennia.

From Rep. Cary Condotta (R-Wenatchee)

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