Good morning on Day 9 of the legislative session.
This afternoon we will know a lot more about the proposed budget cuts that will be the starting point for debate over the next couple of weeks. House Ways and Means chairman Ross Hunter will unveil his early-action bill that makes further cuts in the current budget that runs through June.
It will have a public hearing in Ways and Means at 3:30 p.m., even though the press and public can't read it until it's unveiled shortly before the meeting. (It will be here when it's posted, but right now only the original bill featuring Gov. Chris Gregoire's ideas is online.)
Union and social-services activists may not have seen it, but they don't like it. Service Employees International Union called it "harsh" in a news release announcing they would rally today at the Association of Washington Business offices in Olympia demanding that tax exemptions be closed to help soften the blow of the cuts.
It's important to keep in mind what this bill doesn't do. It doesn't address the big, $4.6 billion two-year budget shortfall; that will come later. Nor is it a full supplemental budget; legislative leaders want to wait to see if the state is lucky in its March revenue forecast.
Here's what else is going on today:
• Abortion opponents converge on the capitol campus today for the March for Life, which drew about 6,000 people last year. First, St. Michael Parish holds its Mass for Life at 10 a.m., with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, spiritual leader to Western Washington's Catholics, presiding. We'll have a story later.
• A bill to shut the remaining Pierce County polling places gets its first Senate hearing in Government Operations today at 1:30. Chairman Craig Pridemore has signed on to the bill, but he has also said he would defer to Pierce County lawmakers if they oppose it. The committee is also considering bills to publicly fund Supreme Court campaigns and cancel the 2012 presidential primary.
• Down the street from the Legislature, the state Transportation Commission gets a briefing at 3:15 on I-5 congestion. WSDOT will talk about traffic from Lacey to Lakewood around Joint Base Lewis-McChord.