House Democrats' proposed two-year budget could eliminate more than 1,600 jobs in state government and higher education. But a Republican alternative offered today by Rep. Gary Alexander would trim about 489 fewer positions.
Most of the GOP's smaller reduction is due to a smaller cut the minority party would make in the Department of Corrections and higher staffing the Republicans proposed for developmental disabilities programs. Here is our synopsis of Alexander's plan posted yesterday.
A comparison between House Democrats' version of House Bill 1087 and Alexander's striker amendment is here.
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Here is the legislative site that has links to Alexander's actual amendment and the Democrats' plan.
Alexander clarified today that his proposal, which he offered as a budget amendment today in the House Ways and Means Committee, eliminates only the state-only portion of the Basic Health Plan. It leaves those eligible for Medicaid that the federal government picks up.
Rep. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, said there also is a Washington Health Plan still available to low-income people that costs more in co-pays and offers less thorough coverage. And he said the GOP puts in more money for community clinics, which offer another option for the poor.
House Democrats retain BHP's subsidized insurance for about 44,000 low income workers.
The Republicans and Democrats are in caucus discussing the various differences between their plans and a vote in Ways and Means still could come later this afternoon. House Ways and Means chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, had hoped to move the bill today, allowing a House floor vote as soon as Friday or Saturday.
Hundreds of community activists from around the state and organized by Washington Community Action Network loudly chanted outside the Ways and Means hearing at 3:30 p.m., asking whether lawmakers are on the side of corporations or the people.
House and Senate GOP leaders said they are opposed to tax increases and open to only a few fees in the budget. Democratic leaders have talked about closing some tax exemptions, and some bills to do that have been introduced. But it remains unclear if any will be brought up for a vote – or sent to the ballot in November.
Lawmakers have until April 24 to finish their work in their regular 105-day session.