Friday, March 12, 2010

The day after sine die

The House and Senate adjourned sine die last night just before 9.

Despite all the glum news about the budget challenges yet to be resolved, legislators ended the regular session on a very high note by reaching agreement on a package of education reform bills related to early learning, Race to the Top, levies and education funding.

Even in a 60-day session we pulled off quite a few other noteworthy accomplishments in the past weeks. In a quick off-the-top-of-our-head very un-complete roundup:
We'll post a more complete roundup later, and legislators will be back on Monday for special session. The focus then, of course, will be wrapping up budget negotiations.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

We are the House Democratic Caucus

The values we share, the people we are, are what make us House Democrats.

Through these tough times, it's important to remember why we are here.

This is why. This is who we are.

The current plan

It's Day 60 of the 60-day session, also known as Sine Die. But legislators don't seem likely to finish up budget negotiations today. So yes, we are preparing for special session. At this point we don't have any details about when it will be called or whether the Governor or the Legislature will call it.

Also at question is whether legislators will come to an agreement about this year's package of education reform bills, some related to the follow-up from last year's ed reform bill and some related to Race to the Top. Rep. Pat Sullivan is working overtime trying to make something happen and we're receiving dozens and dozens of petitions for action.

For now, legislators will continue running concurrences and we'll keep you posted when any breaking news comes our way.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Now what?

Last night the House debated a revenue bill until the wee hours of this morning (see the replay here). The revenue package has changed a bit since first introduced but largely keeps the tax loophole and tax avoidance provisions along with lifting certain sales tax exemptions (such as elective cosmetic surgery and bottled water) and adds to the cigarette tax. The total package would generate $683 million for the 2009-2011 biennium. The House proposal does not include a sales tax increase.

With Sine Die scheduled for Thursday, the next few days will be a mad rush of negotiations as the House and Senate reconcile differences in their budget plans. You'll also see legislators on the floor running concurrence bills and tying up loose ends. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Liveblogging the Revenue Debate

Follow along with us as we liveblog the debate for SB 6143, fact-checking speeches, and hearing from House Dems. We'll begin as soon as they go to the Floor for the vote.

The Olympian agrees: No-new-taxes approach is immoral, unjust

"This is a pivotal week for state lawmakers. This is the week legislators must adopt a balanced budget for the remaining 15 months of the two-year budget cycle, filling a revenue shortfall of $2.8 billion in the process. Lawmakers already cut about $3.5 billion in spending last year to help close a $9 billion budget shortfall. They did not raise taxes.

The question this week is whether Democrats, who enjoy sizeable majorities in the House and Senate, can muster enough votes to both cut programs and raise taxes and get out of town by Thursday’s scheduled adjournment.

It’s a formidable challenge, but the outcome will have tremendous ramifications across the state of Washington.

We believe the final budget solution must include both program cuts and tax increases. The all-cuts budget, which Republicans seem to favor without offering up a budget proposal of their own, is inhumane and unacceptable."
Read the rest of the editorial here.

Today's hot list

Ways & Means is meeting this morning and then members will return to the floor at 10 to kick off the final week of the 2010 legislative session.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The House is not on the floor today

But behind-the-scenes work continues as we count down to Sine Die next Thursday at midnight. Some members are on campus crunching numbers and holding meetings; many others are attending a memorial service for the husband of Rep. Marcie Maxwell. Steve Maxwell, a retired King County deputy sheriff and active community volunteer, passed away last Sunday.

We will resume floor action tomorrow morning at 10:00 am.