Senate budget leaders Sens. Andy Hill and John Braun released an updated 2016 supplemental budget proposal today, which will receive a public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee at 2 p.m. The new plan comes at the beginning of a special session as lawmakers continue work to find bipartisan agreement on an update to the state’s two-year budget adopted in 2015.
“Recognizing we’re in divided government the Senate will continue working with our House colleagues to find common ground, while addressing the needs and priorities of Washington residents,” said Braun, R-Centralia, vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “We’ve demonstrated we can address emergencies like last year’s wildfires and improve mental health treatment and care, while maintaining a sustainable spending plan that complies with our four-year balanced budget.”
The Senate’s updated plan increases overall state spending by $177 million over the original $38 billion budget covering 2015 through 2017. Main changes included to find common ground include utilizing the state’s “rainy day fund” to pay for $190 million in wildfire costs. The update also removes a previous difference with the House over a pension merger proposal that would have saved taxpayers and school districts money while still paying for constitutionally protected benefits.
“Our updated proposal remains a true supplemental budget following historic investments in K-12 education and tuition cuts last year,” said Hill, of Redmond, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “Part of creating a responsible budget means avoiding gimmicks that artificially balance in the near term, while creating significant problems in the future.”
The supplemental budget proposal will receive a public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee today at 2 p.m.; it may be viewed online at www.TVW.org.