Washington Senate and House release supplemental budget plans

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — House and Senate Democrats released their separate supplemental budget proposals on Monday and will soon begin negotiations to reach a final plan they can pass before the end of the legislative session in just over two weeks.

Budget officials released their plans on Monday, hours before public hearings on the proposals are scheduled. Each chamber is seeking to have its plan adopted by its respective floors by this weekend, and negotiations are expected to begin next week.

Each plan aims to increase spending in various areas, including efforts to reduce homelessness, add more social supports — like nurses and counselors — for students, and salmon recovery.

Both reflect the significant increase in state revenue over the past year, with the Senate’s $63.4 billion budget adding about $5.8 billion in new spending to the two-year budget passed by the Senate. lawmakers last April, and the House budget of about $65 billion adding $6.2 billion in new spending.

No general tax increases are included in the proposal, which builds on the two-year, $59 billion spending plan passed by the Legislative Assembly earlier this year. That’s in part because of about $1.3 billion in unspent federal pandemic-related relief funds and the fact that the state has seen a steady recovery in state revenue since the start of the pandemic. COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate uses all of those federal funds in its budget proposal, while the House keeps nearly $1 billion in reserves.

The most recent figures released last month by the State Revenue and Economic Forecasting Council showed projected revenue collection for the 2021-23 budget cycle is more than $1.4 billion higher than what which had been scheduled for November. And projections for the next two-year budget cycle that ends in mid-2025 have increased by more than $1.3 billion.

“It’s clear that after two challenging and challenging years, our state is in a strong position to come back strong,” Democratic Senator Christine Rolfes, key Senate budget writer, said at a press conference Monday. “It’s time to look beyond the pandemic and our proposal does just that.”

The Senate plan leaves $3.3 billion in reserves, and the House has about $2.2 billion, including pandemic money, that it is hoarding for future use.

The home plan includes a Labor Day weekend sales tax holiday for purchases under $1,000 and $200 million in grants for hospitality businesses, including restaurants and hotels who have been hit hard during the pandemic.

Democratic Rep. Noel Frame said these types of investments “are just some of the tools we can use to spur economic growth.”

Republicans, who have called for property tax cuts and other tax relief in light of the influx of state revenue, have decried the lack of broad tax relief in the measures.

“The message from the majority is that there will never be a good time to let taxpayers keep more of their own money – which is not the way to restore public trust in government,” Republican Senator Lynda Wilson said in a statement.

The 60-day legislative session ends on March 10.

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