Although the structured time for public comment on yesterday’s budget proposals from the House and Senate budget chairs has come and gone, it’s still worthwhile considering how the two plans compare. Yet to come are committee votes, floor votes, a conference committee, and another pair of floor votes.
The Washington Research Council has published a short blog post looking at the policy changes made in the two proposals.
The Senate chair’s budget would add $5.837 billion in new policies and the House chair’s proposal would add $7.372 billion in new policies.
WRC senior analyst Emily Makings charts the differences at the link.
most of the action occurs in special appropriations. In the Senate chair’s proposal, that budget category includes:
- $2.0 billion for the multimodal account
- $500.0 million for the strategic enterprise resource planning technology account
- $400.0 million for the school seismic safety grant account (SSB 5933)
- $350.0 million for the paid family and medical leave insurance account
- $217.0 million for a liability account cash deficit
- $157.5 million for the judicial stabilization trust account
- $125.0 million for the community reinvestment account (E2SSB 5796)
- $100.0 million for the salmon recovery account
In the House chair’s proposal, special appropriations include:
- $2.0 billion for the transportation budget
- $737.0 million for a new capital community assistance account
- $397.0 million for the paid family and medical leave insurance account
- $300.0 million for the Washington student loan program (E2SHB 1736)
- $217.0 million for the liability account
- $125.0 million for the community reinvestment account (2SHB 1827)
- $68.0 million for the judicial stabilization fund
The Seattle Times reports,
The new spending blueprints reflect the torrent of dollars coming in through higher-than-expected tax collections since dire economic projections in early 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. That trend continued last week, when a state budget forecast projected $2.7 billion in higher-than-expected tax revenue through mid-2025.
On Monday morning, Senate Democrats released a proposed supplemental budget that includes nearly $6 billion in new spending.
A third of that new spending, or $2 billion, would be transferred to other accounts to be used for transportation spending, as Democrats confront shortfalls there and also consider a new infrastructure package.
Like the senate’s proposal, the House budget would transfer $2 billion to be used for transportation projects. Similarly, it directs $397 million to shore up the paid family leave program and $108 million for school nurses, counselors, psychologists and social workers.
The House plan includes $300 million to fund legislation creating a low-interest student loan program. It would spend another $150 million to provide help for people’s utility bills and another $55 million for rental assistance in an effort to keep tenants from being evicted.
Both the House and Senate budgets proposed Monday fund pay raises for state employees. And they both provide dollars for staff and services aimed at moving people who are camping on rights of way, such as around highways, into permanent housing.
Time is running short. The Associated Press writes,
Budget leaders released their plans Monday, hours before public hearings were to be held on the proposals. Each chamber looks to pass their plan off their respective floors by this weekend, and negotiations are expected to start next week.
So far, it’s hard to identify major differences between the plans that would drag out negotiations. We’ll soon know.