E-NEWS UPDATE: Restraint and Responsibility

Sen Jan Angel E-Newsletter

Hello Friends!

It’s finally over.

On Tuesday, we worked late into the night to pass the supplemental budget that had been holding up the end of legislative session. The hold-up happened because House Democrats insisted on blowing a hole in our budget which is required by law to balance over four years. They wanted to change that law so they could add even more spending without providing the funds to pay for it.

We stuck to our guns and the final agreement is both responsible and bipartisan.

Although the legislative session is over, my work for you is not. If you have a way that we can make your government work better for you, please let me know so we can get started on a solution. I’ve moved back to my district office which is at S.K.Towne Square Mall, 2nd Floor, 1700 SE Mile Hill Drive, Suite 236 in Port Orchard. The phone number there is (360) 443-2409.

As always, you can reach me by email at Jan.Angel@leg.wa.gov.


Supplemental Budget: Restraint and Responsibility

Our state operates on a two-year budget that we write every other year. This was a non-budget year so we only needed to make updates and changes based on emergency needs or unforeseen circumstances.

The Senate proposed an update that lived within our means and stuck to the restraint enforced by our four-year balanced budget law. The House proposed over half a billion in new spending by draining our reserves and raising taxes.

The final agreement held to our principles of fiscal restraint and responsibility. Here’s what the final deal did:

  • Maintains significant reserves as economic growth begins to slow: $1.2 billion versus original House proposal to do none.
  • Does not raise taxes.
  • Only uses rainy day fund for true statewide emergencies (wildfires, $190 million).
  • Provides funding for public charter schools.
  • Provides additional funding for state colleges and tuitions to sustain historic tuition cut.
  • Significant reforms to Health Care Authority to provide cost savings and oversight in the future.
  • Western State Hospital improvements increase quality of mental health care and safety for patients and staff.
  • Increases home visits and oversight for people with developmental disabilities at highest risk for abuse and creates new developmental disability ombudsman.
  • Reduces future budget liabilities on overtime pay for home health care providers.

This built on the past four years of responsible budgeting in which we:

  • Produced a balanced budget that does not raise taxes
  • Invested an additional $4.6 billion into K-12 education
  • Made the first tuition cuts in the nation: Additional 10 percent tuition cut in upcoming school year for UW and WSU students as well as additional 15 percent tuition cut in upcoming school year for students at all other four-year schools. Follows 5 percent tuition cut in 2015-16 school year.

Historic Veto Overrides

Senate veto overrides
With the Secretary of Senate as he signed the veto overrides with my fellow Senators who had bills vetoed.

In a failed attempt to threaten the Legislature to reach a budget deal, the Governor vetoed 27 bills that had been passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. The Columbian explained the foolishness of this move best: “Attempting to coerce legislators into doing their job by threatening to not do yours is nonsensical.”

One of the bills vetoed was a solution brought to me by Kitsap Public Health to help them save a lot of money by streamlining how they handle their finances. After a lot of hard work over the past two years to get the bill passed, I was appalled that the Governor took this action.

Thankfully, the Legislature came together in a bipartisan way to override all 27 of the Governor’s vetoes and restore all the hard work done by many who counted on those solutions for their community, including ours. You can read my response to the Governor’s veto in the Seattle Times, The News Tribune, and Central Kitsap Reporter.

Maintaining Responsible Budgets

A big sticking point this year was the House Democrats’ attempts to do away with the four-year balanced budget law we passed in 2012 to take us off a budgeting roller coaster based on short-term spending needs and revenue changes.

Association of Washington Business president Kris Johnson explains the importance of the law in this op-ed:

State lawmakers shouldn’t abandon discipline

Just because you have money in your pocket today doesn’t mean you are free to spend it all. Some of it – or even most of it – may be spoken for tomorrow.

That was the thinking behind the 2012 law, approved by a bipartisan Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, requiring a four-year balanced state budget. We were the first state in the nation to institute this check on the state budget process, which is designed to be a defense against irresponsible spending.

Many of the legislators who supported the bill in 2012 and helped it pass with strong bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, are still serving today. But some don’t want to adhere to it, which is one of the reasons the Legislature has gone into yet another special session.

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