Democrats criticize Senate GOP’s proposed budget

State Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, Maury Island, stood by her stance on the Republicans’ budget plan and said again that she considered it “cold-blooded.”

At the Democrats’ weekly press conference, Nelson said the bill was unfair to lower-income groups.

Senate Republicans “literally built a budget on the back of our most vulnerable citizens,” she said at the press conference. “Although there were some amendments with some corrections last evening as our team worked until 12:30–1 in the morning…that is still the message that I would say reflects the values in their budget. It is not something that Senate Democrats support.

Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, highlighted his concerns about the collective bargaining contracts being taken off the table.

“We think that the employee contracts are necessary maintenance-level for us to be good employers and to provide critical government services,” he said at the press conference.

Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, said she saw the argument against the collective bargaining agreements based on how the agreements were made, and not the ultimate salaries that were agreed upon.

“They don’t want the governor to negotiate this (and they think) the legislature should be having a stronger role in it,” she said at the conference. “So it came out last night as more of a power struggle and less of a salary issue and hopefully that will be resolved before we leave.”

Ormsby said the criticisms of Inslee’s approach to negotiating the collective bargaining contracts were just politics.

“We think that’s rhetoric that’s not intended to resolve issues, but to inflame the situation,” he said.

Moreover, Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, said the Senate Republicans’ move to replace the agreed-upon contracts with a new flat raise of $1,000 per state employee and 4 percent pay increases yearly, ultimately wouldn’t help workers.

“Of our 65,000 public employees out there providing critical services to our community, only 450 would actually be better off under this proposal,” he said.

Democratic leadership is expected to proposed their own budget next week.

Erin Fenner: erin@washingtonstatewire.com, @erinfenner

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