On Wednesday the Senate released their 2015-2017 supplemental budget proposal, the third and final proposal before negotiations between the House and Senate begin. Now the legislative leaders must work to come to an agreement that both chambers can agree on.
The Senate budget, penned by the Ways & Means Chair Andy Hill, adds about $49 million overall to the two-year $38 billion budget that was adopted last July. Unlike the proposals by Governor Inslee and the House, the Senate budget does not repeal or limit any tax exemptions.
The Senate budget, much like the House budget, continues the commitment the legislature made last year in SB 5954 to reduce tuition in Washington’s institutions of higher education. The Senate budget goes one step further to ensure the funding, or ‘back fill’, provided by the state for the lost tuition revenue is accurate for each school based on actual enrollment numbers. For Evergreen, this would reduce our biennial appropriation by $132,000.
Other notable items in the Senate budget include:
- $6.6 million in support for the state charter school system
- $173 million towards damage caused by the 2015 wildfires
- $54 million towards mental health services
- The Senate also set aside $15 million for possible claims against the state following the computer error that led to the early release for over 3,000 prisoners
On Thursday evening the House moved their budget off of the floor with a 50-47 vote and over 50 amendments offered. The Senate budget was passed out of the Ways & Means Committee last night during Executive Session and is expected to be heard on the Senate floor today.
Today is the opposite house policy cut off, meaning all of the Senate bills need to be passed out of the House policy committees and all of the House bills must be moved out of the Senate policy committees for the bills to remain ‘alive’. Monday is the fiscal cut off, the final cut off date before the legislature moves into the home stretch with 10 days of floor action.