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Tag: Linda Evans Parlette


State senate GOP-led coalition says budget deal has been reached; House Dems say not yet

UPDATE 12:36 p.m.: Another player joins the “no deal” team. A spokesman for Gov. Jay Inslee says the governor’s office has not heard any word of a budget agreement being reached. Here’s the statement just sent out by Inslee spokesman David Postman:

I understand that the Senate majority has announced that there is a budget agreement.  No one has reported to the governor or his budget director that there is an agreement. And, in fact, the House has told us that it is still negotiating with the Senate at this hour. We believe we are close,

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Senate budget, like the rest, headed toward booking Medicaid expansion money

Lawmakers appear headed toward accepting the Medicaid expansion in President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Democrats and Gov. Jay Inslee have been on board for a while with expanding Medicaid health insurance to cover more than 200,000 additional people. House Republicans recently said their budget would include the expansion, which will reduce state medical costs by snagging federal funds to replace them.

The Republicans and two Democrats in the Senate majority have been coy about it, but their caucus chairwoman, Linda Evans Parlette, was more clear today.

“Everybody will recognize there is a bunch of money to book in the budget, and

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Debt limit change leaves billions on the table, offers billions in savings

The constitutional amendment that would shrink Washington’s debt load offers a stark choice for state lawmakers.

Like few other issues, it forces them to weigh their priorities. Are they more concerned with maximizing government spending on construction, which leaves the state with better infrastructure and more construction jobs? The state’s borrowing in 2011-2013 will be down around 2003-2005 levels because of the bad economy.

Or are they more worried about the state’s debt, and the rising share of their budget (now 6 percent, or nearly $2 billion) that goes to paying interest on that debt when it could be going to schools and the social safety net?

Constitutional amendment SJR 8215 prioritizes the latter, which may seem odd since the proposal comes from the two senators who more than any others decide what to spend on construction projects: Democrat Derek Kilmer and Republican Linda Evans Parlette.

They want to do two main things. First, reduce what the Legislature can borrow by gradually lowering the debt limit in the state constitution from its current 9 percent of state revenues to 7 percent. (That 7 percent would not rise again, unlike in the original version of the bill). Second, make borrowing levels more uniform from year to year by basing the debt ceiling on 10 years’ worth of tax collections instead of three years.

Legislative staff estimated the potential results over the next two decades and prepared the charts in the document I’ve posted below. Two numbers stand out: $8.6 billion and $6.8 billion. 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 »


Sen. Derek Kilmer wants limits on state borrowing

State lawmakers would have less money to spend on building projects in flush years and more money to spend on everything else in lean years under a proposal that has bipartisan Senate support.

Sens. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, want to reduce the debt limit in the state constitution from 9 percent of state revenues down to 7 percent.

That would force lawmakers to borrow less money, reining in the growing amount they spend paying interest on debt — now approaching $2 billion, lawmakers said. Every dollar they don’t have to spend on debt service

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Senate GOP scatters for special session

Several lawmakers are missing the special session.

OK, they may not be “missing” it. But they’re not here, for various family- and business-related reasons.

A third of Senate Republicans were gone Tuesday, some potentially for the whole session. Of course, given that Democrats have a 31-18 edge anyway, and have overturned requirements for a supermajority to pass taxes, their absences may not be worrisome for the minority party.

A couple of the most vocal members, Sens. Pam Roach and Don Benton, are away, but GOP Caucus Chairwoman Linda Evans Parlette told me the caucus will still get

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