Follow us:

Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

January 22, 2014 at 3:07 PM

New state budget may not be needed, says Ways and Means chairman

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Andy Hill said he’s not sure the Legislature needs to pass a state operating budget this year.

“You can get out of here without one.” Hill, R-Redmond, said at a news conference Wednesday, adding the GOP-led majority in the Senate would make a decision within a couple of weeks.

Democrats, who control the House and governor’s office, disagree. They contend Republicans are just trying to avoid a discussion about additional funding for education this year.

The Legislature approved a biennial operating budget last year that technically runs through the end of June in 2015. However, the Legislature generally approves a “supplemental” budget the next session to deal with any unexpected expenses.

The last time the Legislature did not approve a supplemental budget was 36 years ago, in 1978, when then Gov. Dixy Lee Ray did not call a session, according to nonpartisan legislative staff.

Hill said there may be no need for a budget this year because the two-year spending plan approved last year remains balanced, which is the first time that’s been true since the Great Recession hit in 2008. If there are some items that require an appropriation, the Legislature might be able to handle them in separate bills, he said.

Republican leaders say additional funding for education can be taken up next year when there’s more time for discussion.

Democrats, however, note the state Supreme Court recently knocked lawmakers for not moving fast enough to meet the court’s mandate for increased education funding, including compensation for teachers.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, in his state-of-the-state address, responded with a proposal to plow an additional $200 million into education this year. The governor said a cost of living increase for teachers should be included. He called for closing tax breaks to pay for the plan.

“Failing to pass a supplemental budget this year means ignoring the Supreme Court’s recent order that made it quite clear that the state is violating its constitutional duty to adequately fund education,” said David Postman, a spokesman for Inslee.

House Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said he didn’t see how the Legislature could avoid writing a budget this session.

“There will be 50 decisions we have to make. We could do 50 bills. That would be like doing 50 budgets,” Hunter said. “If you do a bill and you call it something else — it looks like a budget, it smells like a budget, it is a budget.”

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: budget, spending, state


No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►