Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Budget Deal Struck, Legislature Returns to Work

The state Senate returned to Olympia Monday afternoon, starting with overrides on 27 Senate bills vetoed by Governor Jay Inslee March 10th.  Inslee issued the vetoes as a way to encourage legislators to get supplemental budgets completed, and has indicated that with an agreed-upon operating budget, he would not object to either chamber overriding the vetoes. 

The Senate bills now move to the House for its consideration of override votes. Bills that receive the two-thirds override in both chambers will not  go back to the Governor, but go to the Secretary of State’s office to be assigned a chapter law number.

House members also returned Monday afternoon to get a briefing on the proposed compromise supplemental operating budget.  A number of bills have been pulled to the floor, including the budget bills.  Look for HB 2380 (capital budget) and ESHB 2376 (operating budget) to move first in the House. House members begin work Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. The House is expected to go to caucus after it convenes, but should vote on the budget bills today and send them to the Senate for action.

Also of interest to WSPTA members is the newly introduced HB 3009 (on March 24th) which would allow time spent eating a morning meal in the classroom to count as instructional time if instruction is also taking place. This bill replaces the “Breakfast after the Bell” bill, which failed to pass by the end of regular session. No funding is included in the compromise operating budget for one-time start-up grants at schools that adopt a morning meal program after the school day starts. 

The compromise operating budget also includes funding for beginning teachers, students who are homeless, students in the foster youth system, and to implement aspects of the education opportunity gap bill - all of which passed during the regular session. The bill also includes about a net of $4 million for charter schools (SB 6194), which has not been scheduled for a Governor bill signing yet. 

Legislation to extend an increase in school district levy authority from 2018 to 2019 will not be proposed during the special session. The compromise operating budget includes Section 515 which states the legislature's intent to adopt compensation and levy reform measures by April 1, 2017, or to introduce legislation to extend the authority another year if action by the end of session seems unlikely. 

If all goes according to House and Senate leadership plans, work should conclude by the end of Tuesday, the 20th day of the first special session. 

Marie Sullivan
Legislative Consultant

1 comment: