Senate budget plan earns praise, criticism

The budget plan released by the Senate Republicans may mark the end of the beginning of legislative budget negotiations. There’s considerable distance between the House and Senate, meaning there’s a lot of ground to cover before the two parties reach resolution. 

For our wonky readers, here’s the Senate Ways and Means Committee comparison between the Senate, House and Governor proposals. 

A prepared statement from Association of Washington Business president Kris Johnson noted that the Senate budget was sensitive to taxpayer concerns. 

No budget is perfect, but this proposal is an encouraging step for Washington families and employers. It prioritizes education spending, both for K-12 students and college and university students, and it manages to do so without raising taxes on families or employers.

The Washington Federation of State Employees charges that the Senate plan violates collective bargaining law. 

The collective bargaining deal is central to the budget debate, as the Seattle Times points out. 

What may be the biggest difference between the $38 billion GOP plan and $38.8 billion plan offered last week by the Democrat-controlled House is the approach to paying state workers. The Republicans propose spending about $500 million less on state-worker wages and benefits, according to Hill, R-Redmond, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The Republican plan rejects state-worker contracts as negotiated or arbitrated last year. Instead, Republicans offered a less expensive version, giving $2,000 pay increases to state workers over two years.

In a $38 billion+ budget, there are lots of differences to sort out. That’s the work to be completed (we hope) in the remaining days of the regular session.

Other budget stories: 

We’ve been here before. While the differences loom large, inevitably the chasm is bridged. Sooner would be better than later. And in a way that makes the investments required to expand opportunity by making the essential investments in education without dampening the slow economic recovery.