A full budget table: Marijuana revenues, collective bargaining, capital gains taxes

While not much is being said publicly, it appears that the budget groaning board remains heavily laden. Nearly everything is on the table as negotiators approach a June 30 deadline for passing the biennial budget.

Few expect any visible progress this week. The U.S. Open gets blamed for some lost time. That’s misdirected blame, says Sen. Kevin Ranker, one of the budget negotiators.

“The U.S. Open is not what’s going to force a third special session. It’s going to be lack of an ability to reach a budget deal,” [Ranker] said.

As the Bellingham Herald story points out, the dynamics haven’t changed much  since January (except for substantial growth in projected state revenues since the November 2014 forecast).

The biggest sticking point has been Democrats’ proposal to create new taxes, with Republicans saying the latest revenue projections show there’s no need to increase taxes.

The Seattle Times reports on plans to redirect marijuana revenues to provide a revenue boost to the state operating budget. It’s not a tax increase and both parties have considered it. It’s also not a lot of money. 

There’s also the lingering issue of what to do about the negotiated collective bargaining agreements. Joseph O’Sullivan reports Senate Republicans continue to balk at the pay hikes

About the only tax measure currently being discussed is the capital gains tax, which Senate leaders have repeatedly rejected. But other proposals may resurface as part of the hard-to-predict end game. Despite the increased forecast, the House insists new revenues will be required to satisfy budget obligations, though much less than originally thought.

Late developing plans to reduce school districts’ reliance on local levies by injecting a heavy dose of state funding captured a lot of media attention. But even boosters of the not-fully-baked idea (no revenue source has been identified to fund the increased state share) acknowledge that it won’t go anywhere this year.

At least everyone agrees on what they disagree about and on what’s at stake. From the Daily Sun News regarding a possible partial state shutdown.

“No one has wanted to start that discussion,” says Rep. Bruce Chandler, a Republican from Granger. “We haven’t resigned ourselves that we won’t get it done.” 

…Chandler and Sen. Jim Honeyford, a Republican from Sunnyside, are optimistic a budget will be approved by June 30.

Jim Camden provides perspective in his Spokesman-Review Spin Control column.

As you read this, it is Day 150 [We’re a day late on this, so it’s 151 now] of the legislative session, a deal on the 2015-17 operating budget has yet to emerge and the only thing anyone can say for sure is the 2015 session can’t go for more than another 200 days.

Because after that it will be 2016.

As Camden says, it’s what passes for humor in Olympia these days. But no one’s laughing much.