Starting today, long days of floor action are over in the Legislature, and attention turns to the state budget.
Today we see the latest “caseload” forecast, which predicts how many people will be using state services. The Caseload Forecast Council meets at 10:30 a.m. Lawmakers expect it to show an increase, mostly because of larger number of students attending school. House Budget Chairman Ross Hunter says between higher caseloads and the lower revenues he expects to learn about next week, the state budget problem could worsen by as much as $500 million.
Also today, the first spending plan of the year should emerge, from minority House Republicans detailing proposed schools spending. Members of the House GOP have said they are looking to put an extra $900 million into education. The plan presumably won’t show how to balance the state budget because it will only address education, which Republicans say should be funded first and separately.
Still ahead: A March 20 revenue forecast, followed by budget plans from Senate Republicans and Gov. Jay Inslee.
With Wednesday’s cutoff deadline behind them, lawmakers have scheduled hearings on more than 100 bills. The House Committee on the Environment will also be holding a 10 a.m. work session to receive an update on the leaking storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.