Special Session ending, still no budget!

Published May. 27, 2015

The one task that the legislature is obligated to complete is to pass a two-year budget so that the state can continue operating. In a biennial year such as this, legislators are given 105 days to complete this task. When a budget agreement is not reached in that time, the Governor calls a special session for a maximum of 30 days. If, at the end of the special session, there still is no budget agreement, a second special session is called. If, by June 30th, no budget deal has been reached, the state goes into a government shutdown. In 2013, a budget deal was not reached until June 29th, barely escaping a shutdown.

Four times a year, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council issues a report so that legislators know how much money they can expect to have as they detail what the state budget should spend it funds on. Legislators asked for the June forecast to be released early, in May, to hopefully provide good news to break the budget impasse.

November 2014
2013-15 budget period: additional $115 million more than September 2014
2015-17 budget period: additional $273 million more than September 2014

February 2015
2013-15 budget period: additional $107 million
2015-17 budget period: additional $129 million

May 2015
2013-15 budget period: additional $79 million
2015-17 budget period: additional $327 million

Although all this extra revenue coming in looks good, keep in mind that the state has new funding obligations too: I-1351 (the lower class size initiative), the McCleary court decision (fully fund education), additional clients eligible for Medicaid services, more students enrolled in schools, state worker contracts, etc. Legislators must look at everything, it is not a simple equation.

The budget proposals have all been released and the budget writers are fine-tuning their final proposals. The biggest issue seems to be whether to finalize the budget based on current revenue forecasts or if legislators want to try to pass tax increases.

The Governor’s proposal was disappointing because he proposed to take away half of the funding the legislature provided last year (through SB 6347, the VIP Act). Both the House and Senate refused that idea and intend to fully fund the bill, which provides waiver services to 5,000 people who are currently on the No Paid Services waitlist. The House proposal does fund our current programs and adds funding for a wage increase for supported living providers and additional state funds needed for early intervention services (not included in the Senate proposal). The Senate also funded our current programs and added funding for community respite beds for both children and adults (the House did not include this).

It is important to let your legislators know what you want to see in the final budget. Go to The Arc’s Action Alert and send your priorities to the Governor and your legislators. Time is running out!!!
http://capwiz.com/arcwa/issues/alert/?alertid=65033791&type=TA&show_alert=1

To view the budget side-by-side go to:
https://arcwa.org/resources/2015_budget_comparison_Governor_House_Senate_amended.pdf

Bills of Interest for 2015

The regular session ended, we are now in the final days of the first special session and the legislature has not yet reached an agreement on the budget. A second special session is likely. Most bills have passed and been signed by the Governor. Some are still being voted on if they are considered Necessary To Implement the Budget (NTIB). NTIB bills must get voted on by each house again in the special session. With the first special session ending tomorrow, the bills have to start over again in the second special session, so not much really got accomplished during the first one. To see the status of the bills of interest, visit our web site at:
https://arcwa.org/resources/Bills_of_Interest_5-27.pdf

What can you do now?

Act on The Arc’s Action Alerts. Make your budget priorities known to the Governor and your legislators!

 Check out our web site at www.arcwa.org and click on the “Take Action” tab.
 Read the Olympia Reporter for in-depth news happening in Olympia during legislative session.
 Subscribe to the Olympia Insider YouTube channel during session for video updates.
 Sign up for The Arc of Washington State’s Action Alerts.
 Be sure to follow TheArcofWA on Twitter.
 Become a fan of The Arc - Washington State on Facebook.
 Get the Advocacy Partnership Project “News to Know” email newsletter. Email Diana@arcwa.org.
 Write Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper. The Arc makes this easy for you to do. Simply go to http://capwiz.com/arcwa/home and click on the “Media Guide” tab. Choose five newspapers to send to, then write your message and click send.

Questions? Need more information? Email me at Diana@arcwa.org.

Remember, change is being made by those who show up!