New senate budget could jumpstart talks

Mar 15, 2012
Originally published on March 15, 2012 12:00 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s special session got off to a slow start. But now there are signs that stalled budget negotiations are inching forward. Senate Republicans Thursday rolled out a fresh budget proposal – one that would not cut education.

The coalition that took over the Washington state Senate a couple of weeks ago and passed a budget is back. This time the 22 Republicans and 3 break-away Democrats have a new plan to re-balance the books. One that would restore more than $70 million in cuts to K-12 and higher education.

Senator Jim Kastama is one of the three Democrats allied with Republicans.

“This budget has made many of the changes suggested by my Democratic colleagues," Kastama says. "It’s a budget that can receive broad-based support, I believe. And it’s a budget that can bring the special session to a close.”

Initial reaction from majority Democrats was positive.

“There’s movement here. This is good” says House budget chair Ross Hunter.

Senate budget chair Ed Murray adds, “I think it makes it easier to get into negotiations now that they’ve finally put a proposal down.”

But there are still major points of disagreement. Democrats want to delay a payment to schools. Republicans propose instead to skip a pension payment. The Senate Republican budget would also end the Disability Lifeline program and allow a few charter schools.

Both of those proposals have been non-starters with many Democrats.

On the Web:

Budget Proposal Overview:

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