Washington’s cities and counties say they’re expecting to run low on the money needed to keep pace with growing costs such as health care and paying benefits for more retirees, so their associations went before the House Finance Committee Wednesday to lobby for new revenue sources.
Over the last 30 years, the Republican Party in Washington state has entered a two-year budget biennium with one of its own as the Senate’s chief budget writer exactly five times.
In the seven hours Linea spent waiting for a psychiatric bed to open up, she witnessed patients tied to gurneys in the hallways and others sedated for acting out in a psychotic episode.
The case in question resulted in the largest ever settlement payout by the state in a child abuse case — $9.75 million for five siblings who suffered terrible abuse at the hands of their parents. Faced with a tough case, internal records show that the AG’s office signed contracts with experts for hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to downplay the long-term psychological problems the five siblings could be expected to experience.
At the city of Seattle, it turns out, overtime pay is not just for emergencies. It’s more than half of some people’s annual paychecks. In fact, 18 of last year’s 25 top-paid Seattle city employees made the list thanks to overtime pay — up to $119,194 for one City Light worker.
The new cost of implementing labor contracts for Washington state employees and home care aides in next year’s state budget might exceed $583 million. That includes wage increases and keeping health care coverage roughly the same as today.
With the implementation of federal health care reform, Medicaid enrollment is now split between the Department of Social Health Services and the new state Health Benefit Exchange (HealthPlanFinder). The result is a net reduction in federal matching funds for administration, duplication of efforts, and more confusion for enrollees.
Did King County cry wolf to voters with predictions of 16 percent cuts to bus service? The County Council is now considering ways around the deepest cuts. Late in the campaign came new county sales-tax projections for Metro that are up $32 million for 2014 and $31 million for 2015, compared to earlier assumptions.
The Joint Select Committee recently approved an education report detailing some actions taken by the Legislature in response to the ruling from the state’s Supreme Court that lawmakers are under-funding basic education. Whether or not the Court will consider the report adequate – which they likely won’t – is yet to be seen, though some experts claim that they have no legal means of enforcing the issue anyway.
You can say the 2014 legislative session started with low expectations, and it lived right up to them. Washington lawmakers ended their 60-day session just before midnight Thursday after passing a do-no-harm budget and a handful of policy bills of mostly modest import. As two months of caterwauling, fingerpointing and partisan debate finally came to an end, they could point to one big achievement: They managed to wrap it all up on schedule, with seven minutes to spare. Now the big problem. How do you sum up a session in which nothing much really happened?