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Welcome to AWC’s online library of Legislative Bulletin and CityVoice news articles and other updates.

Published on Monday, March 2, 2015

What’s up with the state budget?

We’re nearing the half way mark of the 2015 legislative session, and last week a number of Senators introduced 22 title-only bills related to the biennial budget discussion (Senate bill numbers 6049-6070). Ways & Means Chair Senator Andy Hill (R-Redmond) sponsored 11 of these bills, Ranking Ways & Means Senator Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam) sponsored four, Assistant Ranking Ways & Means Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) sponsored six, and Education Chair Senator Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) sponsored one.

Meanwhile in the House, Appropriations Chair Representative Ross Hunter (D-Medina) sponsored 13 title-only bills relating to the biennial budget (House bill numbers 2168-2180). Last week, Representatives Chris Reykdal (D-Lacey) and Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) co-sponsored five title only bills relating to local governments. Rep. Carlyle also sponsored one title only bill relating to special purpose taxing districts.

So what’s a title-only bill? A title-only bill is a bill which contains nothing more than a title and a number. It is introduced in order to have a vehicle to add substance to at a later time.

All these title-only bills come at a time when the debate continues about whether the nearly $3 billion in new revenue forecasted for FY 2015-17 is adequate to cover: 1) current levels of state services; 2) McCleary basic education enhancements; 3) projected increased caseload pressures (such as public and medical assistance, corrections, long-term care, k-12 enrollment and foster care); and 4) other rising expenses and new issues (such as increased debt service payments, higher pension costs for public employees, the cost of recent disasters, mental health expenses, salary enhancements).

For insight into this debate, check out Sen. Hill’s paper, Windows Into the Budget – 2015 Budget Preview: The Deficit Myth?, and the House Democrats’ response to the Senate Republicans on revenue adequacy: Surplus or Deficit : Which is it?

What does this mean about the status of budget negotiations? In the end, all of these activities lead us to believe the budget discussion is getting underway early this year, and we’re hearing the House could release its budget proposal during the week of March 23. Stay tuned for ways to help cities stay in the conversation, advance our priorities, and prevent further erosion of funds.

Categories: Budget & finance
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