Legislature Starts New Week in Same Old Mode

The Senate’s minority Democrats and majority Republicans confirmed Monday they have extended feelers to start talks on this latest deadlock. But both sides are currently in no-budging modes. At stake is an unexpected $2 billion hole in the state’s one-week-old $38.2 billion budget for 2015-2017.

Could Rule Changes Strengthen State’s Balance Budget Requirement?

Senate Democrats refusing to vote for the suspension of I-1351 (unfunded class size reduction) as assumed by the 4yr outlook that was part of the budget deal. Sen. Billig, however, said on the Senate floor the budget deal was only not to fund I-1351, not necessarily suspend it.

The Forever Session: In Which Republicans Are Winning

A lasting impression of the 2015 Legislature will be the dominance of Senate Republicans. And it’s for all the reasons Senate Republicans are smiling. House Democrats couldn’t push across a minimum-wage increase, paid leave or capital gains tax. In one of the bluest and greenest states, they failed to pass any significant climate change bill. In the end, they couldn’t boost the cigarette tax to fund cancer research.

Final Budget: Hits and Misses

While it is good news that the budget increases its investments, the reality is that those investments can’t actually come to fruition without a reliable, sustained source of revenue to pay for them.

Senate Scuffle Leaves $2 Billion Hole in Day-Old $38 Billion Operating Budget

The two-year spending plan hinges on the Legislature delaying Initiative 1351, the measure to lower class sizes that voters approved in November. But in an unexpected development, the state Senate shot down a crucial bill Wednesday morning that would delay the initiative for the next four years. The stalemate over I-1351 also is holding up progress on remaining parts of a 16-year transportation package in the state House, as well as a bonding bill that pays for more than half of the construction budget Inslee signed into law Tuesday.

Budget Bill’s Done, But Legislature Still Isn’t

With about 20 minutes before parts of the government would have shut down, Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday night signed the state’s 2015-17 operating budget. But even as lawmakers applauded the accomplishment, they became locked in a stalemate that threatened progress on a handful of other bills. House members were sent home Wednesday morning at about 3:30 a.m. without finishing votes on the transportation package. After failing to gain the two-thirds majority vote needed to delay implementation of the class size Initiative 1351, the Senate adjourned until Friday. Legislators on Tuesday night additionally passed a capital construction budget, which Inslee also signed.

Worker’s Comp COLA Is 4.2 Percent for FY 2016

The maximum monthly benefit will increase to $5,482.90 (from $5,263.50). According to L&I, “Less than 4 percent of L&I claimants receiving wage-replacement benefits collect the maximum.”

Legislature Approves Budget That Cuts Tuition, Funds State Worker Raises

The state Senate passed the $38.2 billion budget Monday evening on a 38-10 vote, and the state House approved the spending plan shortly afterward, 90-8. The measure now goes to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who must sign it by the end of the day Tuesday to avoid lapses in state services and temporary layoffs of state workers.

Lawmakers Reach Deal on Gas Tax Increase, Transportation Funding

Lawmakers began their third overtime session at noon Sunday as they tried to wrap up work on a state operating budget. A new two-year budget must be passed and signed by the governor before the end of the day Tuesday to avoid a partial government shutdown Wednesday. Sen. Fain said that in the deal reached on the transportation package, the fuel standard restriction would apply through 2023.