Friday, April 24, 2009

Vote on the budget - Read it? Don't have time!

How they minimize objections and reduce the pain of voting for this budget: Leadership in the House won't give the members time to read what they are going to vote on. How can responsible leaders (all members are leaders, right?) allow this? Again and again. Political Buzz - Tacoma News Tribune
The budget document -- which will have some, but nowhere near all the details -- is supposed to come out at 9 a.m. today. [snip] The floor debate probably will start at 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 p.m. And the final vote will be sometime tonight. The Senate will have a little more time. They probably won't vote until Saturday. The Legislature adjourns Sunday. Yep. This is the way it's done. In fact, the script is being followed so closely, I thought I should re-post the prediction of an unnamed lobbyist from two months back. This feels more like the traditional approach of past legislatures in which you keep as much as possible hidden, reveal details toward the end of session, and then compel worn-out members to take hard votes when they desperately want to go home. This strategy has often worked in the past, but I have a hard time understanding how it works in this situation.
Here is the official summary. Don't worry about the details; that's where a few things are hidden. Politics Northwest - Seattle Times Newspaper Blog:
2009-2011 Operating Budget "Cuts with a conscience" Total Budget: $ 31.4 billion Ending fund balance: $830 million K-12: -- Total spending: $13.4 billion -- Net cut after federal stimulus dollars are included: $794 million -- I-732 suspended for two years: $353 million -- I-728 reduced by $600 million -- K-4 class-size reduction fully funded -- Average per school district cut: 2.6% -- One Learning Improvement Day (LID) is eliminated: $35.7 million -- School district levy capacity increased by 4% (capping at 35%) Higher Education: -- Reductions, after tuition increase, are: 7% at UW/WSU; 6.5% at regional universities; and 6% at community colleges --Tuition raised 14%/year at four year schools; 7%/year at community colleges -- Number of enrollments eliminated: 9,028 -- State Need Grant is fully funded -- Total financial aid increase: $52 million Health Care: -- Basic Health Plan - attrition of 40,000 enrollees, saving $255 million -- No reductions to Medicare Part D premium support or to Adult Vision Human Services: -- General Assistance program is preserved - more focus on getting the right services to people -- Long-term care programs - rate reductions approximately 4% -- Adult day health - in-home services is preserved Corrections/Juvenile Rehabilitation/Institutions: -- Public safety concerns were tantamount in making savings - public defenders and law enforcement in support -- No specific institutions are closed Natural Resources: -- No parks closed: all revenues from opt-in fee go solely for maintenance and operation of parks -- No hatcheries closed unless not enough revenue from fees Compensation/Employment: -- Agencies are encouraged to use strategies such as reduced work scheduled, use of voluntary leave without pay, and temporary furloughs that enable employees to maintain permanent employee status, full insurance benefits, full accrual of retirement service credit, and a living wage. -- Administrative cuts totaling roughly $250 million.
I saw a fee/tax increase or two in there. I hear there are more at the local and county level.

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