This morning both chambers confirmed that a final budget deal has been reached for the 2013-15 biennium. Members will be briefed on the proposal this afternoon. There is hope that the final budget may reach Governor Inslee’s desk by tomorrow night.
While we await details on the $33.6 billion budget, reports state that the budget includes an additional $1 billion into public schools; a prohibition on higher-education tuition increases for one year, with some flexibility in the second year; and an agreement to end a tax break for residential phone service that’s projected to net about $85 million over the next two years.
Though the general outlook is this will move forward, there is a cautious tone because disagreements between the two chambers remain. The disagreements, however, are primarily focused on separate pieces of legislation and not part of the budget. Among the topics still left undetermined include budget language to conduct a study on fish consumption and recovery plans for the protected Eastern Washington wolf population.
The budget deal comes after a week of negotiations and actions on the floor. Earlier this week both the House and Senate met and passed a handful of non-controversial bills that were deemed necessary to implement the budget.
Today the House successfully passed a $10 billion transportation tax package which includes a tax on gasoline. This is after a failed attempt yesterday.The future of the transportation package is uncertain in the Senate.
In addition, the House may take up legislation to stiffen drunken-driving penalties that was passed by the Senate earlier.