Politics & Government

House votes 86-6 to approve $588M in cuts

The state House approved a $588 million package of emergency spending cuts today on a rare bipartisan budget vote of 86-6 in Olympia.

Republican Reps. Mike Hope of Snohomish County and Glenn Anderson of Fall City were the lone members of their party to oppose it. Democratic Rep. Brendan Williams of Olympia was joined by Reps. Christine Rolfes of Kitsap County, Dawn Morrell of Puyallup, Geoff Simpson of Covington in also voting no.

The budget package, known as House Bill 3225, now goes to the Senate floor for a vote at any time. Two other budget bills heard in committee this morning also are in the works for a House floor vote.

Democratic Rep. Larry Springer of Kirkland spoke for many Democrats in saying the bill would result in substantial and painful cuts to those who rely on government services. But he said Republicans and Democrats were acting together. “That feels good,” he said. “All sides were at the table. Every corner of the Legislature was at the table The bill passed the Ways and Means Committee 18-0.”

“While we may not feel good about all aspects of it, we can feel good about the process,” said Rep. Bruce Dammeier of Puyallup.

Rep. Williams, who gave what might have beenn his final speech before retiring from his seat, said he would have preferred a more wide-ranging effort at writing a full supplemental budget. He said he wanted to ensure that the budget effects of cuts could get more careful consideration.

He also said lawmakers already have cut $5.1 billion in spending over the past few years and need to continue discussions about how to capture more revenue as they face another huge revenue gap next year.

Republican Rep. Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla said it is an opportunity now for communities and individuals to start looking out for neighbors.But Williams questioned how people cut off from getting health insurance benefits from the Basic Health Plan, Disability Lifeline or other programs would get them from philanthropic groups like churches and nonprofits.

Rep. Hope said he voted against the measure because it shifts $208 million in federal education money from the economic stimulus package into state coffers. “I've always told constituents in my district we should fund education first,” he said. Hope said he also thinks lawmakers should have taken up reforms in special session.

But Rep. Barbara Bailey of Whidbey Island said it was a start. “We will have to reset, reform and reshape what we do,” she said in a speech.

“I'm very pleased,” said Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Thurston County, who helped negotiate the budget agreement. “I think we're started showing the importance of bipartisanship in addressing very difficult issues like the budget. I hope we can continue doing that going forward.''