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Tag: Hans Dunshee


Senate, House inch toward each other on debt limit

For a while now, the Senate and House have been arguing about whether the state debt ceiling should stay the same — 9 percent of state revenue — or be lowered to 7 percent.

Now they’re inching toward each other.

Senators are offering 7.25 percent and agreeing to let the rate fall more gradually over many years; House members offer 8.5 percent as the rate to be enshrined in the state constitution and propose a more informal rate of 8 percent.

Rep. Hans Dunshee‘s proposal, the 8 percent lid that could be adjusted over time, passed the House Capital Budget Committee today on a 6-5 vote that broke across party lines.

GOP Reps. Hans Zeiger of Edgewood and Norma Smith of Coupeville said it didn’t go far enough to reduce unsustainable levels of debt. Attacking it from the other end of the spectrum, Rep. Kristine Lytton of Anacortes  said lawmakers’ hands shouldn’t be tied in tough economic times, and her fellow Democrats Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma and Steve Tharinger of Sequim said they don’t think state debt levels are such a big problem. Read more »


Debt fight still holding up Legislature halfway into special session

Both sides of a debate over debt are blaming one another for keeping state lawmakers in Olympia.

Republicans and sympathetic Senate Democrats are holding the budgets hostage until they get their wish list, said Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish.

“They’ve got all these ideological, external issues that they’re shoving, and they’re going to keep us here because of that,” Dunshee said.

Worker’s compensation reform and privatization of state back-office services are on that list — worker’s comp may be the main roadblock to a deal on the $32 billion operating budget — but the main one Dunshee is fighting is a proposal to lower the state debt limit.

Debt is the issue that kept the state’s bond budget from coming to a House floor vote Tuesday. House Republicans and a bipartisan Senate coalition are blocking more than $1.3 billion in bonds, demanding that House Democrats agree to pass a constitutional amendment to lower the state debt limit from 9 to 7 percent of state revenue.

“All three caucuses agree, and my understanding is the votes are there for it, too, so let’s get it done.” House GOP leader Richard DeBolt said. “If we’re going to get out of here, Hans Dunshee has to set aside his ego and start negotiating.”

They are already negotiating, say Dunshee and Sen. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor, the Democratic capital budget chairmen who are at odds with each other over the debt limit. Dunshee said he sent senators a proposal last week and will meet with them today about it. Read more »


Senate ‘willing to walk away’ from state bond projects

Construction projects paid for with state borrowing are popular with everyone, but that doesn’t keep them from becoming political footballs.

Senators who released a bipartisan construction budget earlier this week are threatening to scrap the bonds that it contains if the House doesn’t pass a constitutional amendment they favor.

House Republicans have also been using the bonds as a bargaining chip, as The Olympian’s Brad Shannon reported. They’re threatening to vote against them if Democrats don’t approve the Senate’s workers’ compensation bill.

Even a minority of lawmakers can gain leverage by holding up bonds because borrowing requires a 60 percent supermajority.

“It’s the one thing they have control over,” House Capital Budget Committee Chairman Hans Dunshee said, “so they’re thinking about all the things you can get for it at this point.”

But a move today by Dunshee aims to make it harder for lawmakers to vote against the debt. He merged the bond bill that authorizes borrowing money with the part of the capital budget that directs how that money will be spent. So anyone voting no could be accused of opposing all sorts of projects in their home districts.

Senators are undaunted. “They’re just playing games,” Republican Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee said. And Senate GOP Leader Mike Hewitt said if the debt issue isn’t addressed, Republicans are willing to oppose the bond projects and borrow no money: “We’re willing to walk away from everything.”

The authors of the capital budget, Parlette and Democrat Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor, say they are preparing a cash-only alternative capital budget that would borrow no money but still fund K-12 construction and some other projects.

That’s leverage in Kilmer and Parlette’s push to pass a constitutional amendment to rein in state debt. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is waiting for action by Dunshee’s committee. Read more »


Meet the House majority leader candidates

There’s a long list of House Democrats who want to replace retiring Majority Leader Lynn Kessler as the chamber’s second-in-command.

Rep. Pat Sullivan seems to have built up some support during months as a candidate for the post. He has experience poring over the budget as vice-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. The former mayor of Covington is entering his fourth term in the House.

Rep. Zack Hudgins of Tukwila is entering his fifth term and has been Democrats’ floor leader for four years, with authority over the flow of legislation.

Rep. Jeff Morris of Anacortes, a longtime lawmaker elected to the House in 1996, has played a visible role as speaker pro tempore, presiding over House sessions.

Rep. Larry Springer has been a liaison between House Democrats and interest groups from union to labor. He is the former mayor of Kirkland and is entering his fourth term.

Candidates said Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, the chairman of the capital budget committee is also running, but I haven’t been able to reach him. I wrote before about Rep. Larry Seaquist’s bid for the job.

Read more »


The verdict on jobs

Democrats say they created tens of thousands of jobs with laws passed this year, even as Republicans complain about a tax increase they say will be a job killer.

Some bills intended to get employers hiring failed. I wrote in today’s paper about a hiring tax credit that didn’t make the cut, along with the fate of other job measures.


HANS BONDS: Passed. Voters will decide in November whether to increase the state’s debt and extend a tax on bottled water, all to pay for energy-efficient upgrades to schools that Rep. Hans Dunshee says will create 30,000

Read more »