Senate budget for Washington state

The Associated Press
4/4/03 9:03 PM

TOTAL: General fund budget for two fiscal years beginning July 1 is $22.8 million, up $217 million from current level.

TAXES: No general increases. Annual tuition hikes of as much as 9 percent authorized, as are some minor tax and fee increases, such as a $10 increase in the marriage license fee.

RESERVES: $253 million.

SPENDING: Finances schools, colleges, prisons, parks, operation of the Legislature and courts, social services, health care and other government services.

CUTS: Pay freezes ordered for most public workers, payroll cut by 2,300, Medicaid for kids is cut, agency overhead is cut by $154 million, hospital care for indigents is cut by $111 million, pension contributions are trimmed $101 million, education grant programs are cut $73 million, tort liability account is cut $40 million. Limiting General Assistance Unemployable welfare saves $41 million, and early release and less community supervision of some ex-cons saves $40 million.

ADDS: Restores some cuts proposed by governor in the Basic Health Program, boosts college enrollment numbers, restores $150 million worth of cuts in services to developmentally disabled, mental health and nursing home programs, restores adult hearing and vision coverage and most adult dental.


VOTE: Passed Senate on Friday, 28-20, with 24 Republicans and four Democrats in favor.

NEXT: House Democrats are preparing a counterproposal, which is expected to include new revenue. Negotiators and governor then iron out differences.

Related story:

Many bills die at cutoff, but budget keeps much alive

The Associated Press
4/4/03 9:43 PM

OLYMPIA, WA(AP) -- Dozens of proposed laws died Friday as a key deadline passed for bills to move out of committees. But an exemption for proposals tied to the state's budget kept many other bills alive -- sometimes just barely.

Among the proposals in jeopardy: a rollback of Washington's voter-approved ban on most animal trapping and a package of bills aimed at improving the business climate, including sweeping limits on lawsuits.

The trapping bill exemplifies the not-quite-dead bills. Under the rules, the bill that drastically loosens the trapping ban would normally have died when House Fisheries, Ecology and Parks Chairman Mike Cooper couldn't find the votes for his proposed changes.

But the bill just barely fits through the budget loophole because it's mentioned in the Senate's budget, and thus can be resurrected.

"It's got an opportunity to have another life," said Rep. Jim Buck, R-Joyce, one of the prime backers of the bill. Farmers, ranchers, timber companies and owners of mole-infested lawns have been pushing for changes in the ban almost since it was approved by voters in 2000.

But Cooper, D-Edmonds, balked at Senate Bill 5179, which would largely reauthorize the sale of trapped fur, a major problem for the animal welfare groups that sponsored the initiative.

The outlook for the package of pro-business bills passed by the Republican-controlled Senate could be more bleak. Many -- including a freeze in the minimum wage and a limit on industrial hearing-loss claims -- are vehemently opposed by unions and now languish in the labor-friendly House Commerce and Labor Committee.

An omnibus bill passed by the Senate that would impose various limits on lawsuits remained in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday after Chairwoman Pat Lantz dropped the gavel. Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, opposed the bill, which includes caps on damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases.

But the bill also includes legal protections for state agencies, and the Senate's already counting on its $40 million in savings in the Senate version of the budget.

Other proposals were down and out. A proposed constitutional amendment that would allow local school districts to increase tax levies with a simple majority of voters instead of 60 percent died in the Senate Education Committee, where Chairman Steve Johnson, R-Kent, worried about the potential for skyrocketing property taxes.


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