The state House has advanced a spending plan authored by Democrats, and the Senate could approve its own bipartisan plan as soon as Friday. Next comes the negotiations. With just 11 days left in the scheduled legislative session in Olympia, there are major differences to work out between the two budgets. Here’s a comparison of the budgets on key issues:
SENATE: Cuts K-12 employees’ pay by 3 percent, saving $251 million, and suspends cost-of-living increases. Ends bonuses for nationally certified teachers after three years instead of 10 years.
HOUSE: No pay cut, but freezes “step” increases for longevity, saving $56 million, and suspends cost-of-living increases. Makes a smaller cut to certification bonuses, reducing the first-year bonus.
STATE EMPLOYEE PAY
SENATE: Cuts salaries by 3 percent through furloughs after July 1. Some higher-paid state workers in general government would take additional furloughs: two unpaid days off for those earning $50,000-$75,000; four days for those earning $75,000-$100,000; six days for those earning $100,000-$125,000; and eight days for those earning $125,000 or more.
HOUSE: Takes the 3 percent cut but not the extra furloughs for higher-paid workers.
SENATE: $1.19 billion in cuts on top of the cuts to employee compensation. Cuts funding that is used to reduce class size. Reduces funding to school districts based on numbers of student unexcused absences.
HOUSE: $1.16 billion in cuts, including the class size money but not the reductions for truant students.
SENATE: Cuts $26 million, or 10 percent of funding, for students in at-home programs and online learning.
HOUSE: Cuts $53 million from the programs.
SENATE: Cuts $643 million from universities and colleges. Offsets part of the cut by allowing tuition increases of 16 percent for the University of Washington, Washington State and Western Washington; 14 percent for Central and Evergreen; 11 percent for Eastern and 12 percent for community colleges.
HOUSE: Cuts $603 million while allowing tuition increases of 13 percent for UW, WSU and Western, 11.5 percent for Eastern, Central and Evergreen and 11 percent for community colleges.
SENATE: Releases prison inmates 60 days early, except for those convicted of sexual and violent crimes, reducing prison population by 252. Most of the savings is used to fund expanded treatment programs for offenders. Releases other offenders on the date they have earned through good behavior, rather than holding them back due to lack of money for housing, reducing prison population by 163.
HOUSE: Releases prison inmates 120 days early, except those convicted of sexual and violent crimes. No earned-release changes.
SENATE: No liquor privatization proposal.
HOUSE: Counts on $300 million in up-front cash from leasing out the operation of a state-owned liquor distribution warehouse.
BASIC HEALTH PLAN
SENATE: Continues a freeze on enrollment in the subsidized health insurance plan, shedding another 10,000 people from the rolls over two years to save $122 million. Enrollment would shrink to 34,000.
HOUSE: Reduce enrollment in Basic Health to about 41,000 to save $108 million.
SENATE: Eliminates a cash grant for people who are temporarily unable to work because of a disability, replacing it with housing aid. Caps the number of people receiving medical coverage under the disability program at just less than 12,000, a reduction of about a third.
HOUSE: Eliminates the cash grant and replaces it with housing aid, but avoids the cuts to medical care.
SENATE: In addition to the medical cuts that affect community health clinics, cuts the rates paid to the clinics for poor patients insured under Medicaid by $99 million. Also suspends grants to the clinics to cover the uninsured.
HOUSE: Cuts the Medicaid rates by $184 million, while making a smaller cut to the grants than the Senate, $14 million.
IMMIGRANT CHILDREN'S HEALTH
SENATE: Caps enrollment at 22,500 in health insurance for kids whose families can’t prove their legal residency in the country. Ends subsidized coverage in the program for children whose families make more than 200 percent of the poverty level.
HOUSE: Avoids capping enrollment but eliminates subsidies for families making more than 200 percent of poverty level.
SENATE: Closes Rainier School in Buckley and Frances Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton, residential facilities for the developmentally disabled, and transfers money to community programs.
HOUSE: Closes Yakima Valley School and Frances Haddon Morgan – once there are enough local alternatives to the facilities – but not Rainier School.
WESTERN STATE HOSPITAL
SENATE: Cuts 26 state jobs by closing an admissions ward at the Lakewood psychiatric hospital where criminal defendants are evaluated for mental capacity to stand trial. The closure next January hinges on lawmakers agreeing to shift responsibility for competency evaluations to jails and other local facilities.
HOUSE: Does not close the admissions ward. Also counts on previously made cuts of 79 other jobs at the hospital, including a ward closure last fall.
SENATE: Funds the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, but cuts their hours. The museums would be expected to close one day a week. Olympia’s State Capital Museum is already on a reduced, one-day-a-week schedule.
HOUSE: Funds the museums by taking money that would otherwise be saved for construction of a Heritage Center on the Capitol Campus that would include the State Library and historical and archival displays. Merges the museum into one agency along with the state Arts Commission and the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
TAXES AND FEES
SENATE: Raises no general taxes. Charges drivers $30 per year for access to state parks, forests and other state-owned lands, and raises the cost of hunting and fishing licenses. Spends money from proposed higher fees for environmental permits, such as construction work near water and forestry projects. Assumes nursing homes will be charged a new per-patient fee that would be used to raise federal matching money for care at the homes. Eliminates a property-tax deferral program for the poor.
HOUSE: Raises no general taxes. Includes the same fees on parks access, licenses, permits and nursing homes and ends the property-tax program.
SENATE: Saves $362 million by ending annual cost-of-living increases for retirees older than 66 in two pension plans that were closed to new state employees and teachers in 1977. The increase in the minimum pension amount would be untouched, and a minimum benefit for people retired at least two decades would go up by $306 per month to compensate.
SENATE: Cuts funding for family-planning grants by 22.5 percent.
HOUSE: Expands eligibility for a family-planning program from 200 percent of the poverty level to 250 percent, counting on savings from reducing medical payments for births.
SENATE: Raises $1 million by selling the State Patrol’s King Air aircraft.
HOUSE: Not included.
Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826 jordan.schrader@thenews tribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/politics