Week seven
The budgets are out! Both the House and Senate released and heard their budgets on Monday, Feb. 24, and they have passed out of their respective fiscal committees. The Senate passed their budget off the floor on Feb. 27. The House is expected to take up their budget tomorrow.
 
All in all, both budgets made a number of investments in early learning, behavioral health, child welfare, and public assistance programs. While the House and Senate need to reconcile their differences, we are hopeful that many (really all!) of these investments made in one or both of the budgets are included in the final budget.
 
Partners for Our Children will be doing a budget comparison after the final budget comes out. In the meantime, we hope that this document is of use, it compares proposed budgets from the Governor, Senate, and House related to some of the items we are tracking,.  As always, if you see errors, please let us know!
 
Although a lot of focus this week is on the budgets, today is also the cut-off for bills to be out of the opposite house policy committees. That means the committees have been working hard to hear and pass bills so that they can continue to move through the process. Many that got through this hurdle are now in the fiscal committees where the next cut-off is Monday, March 2nd. Then, the bill goes to Rules, and if successful there, the floor of the opposite house. 
 
We are fortunate that many of the bills we have been prioritizing are still alive, including:
*Family Connections Program (HB2525),
*Certifying Parental Improvement (HB1645 and SB5533),
*Financing the Partnership Access Line (HB2728),
*Eligibility for Working Connections Child Care (HB2456),
*Re-authorization of the Children’s Behavioral Workgroup (HB2737),
*Improving Access to TANF/Revising Economic Assistance Programs (HB2441/SB6478),
*Protecting Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (HB1775), and many more. 
 
Now the goal is to keep them alive! 
 
Oh, one other thing…. when you look at the Partners for Our Children bill tracker and see that the most current status indicates that the bill is still in a committee (or on the 2nd reading calendar) in the house of origin, it means the bill is very likely dead. Sorry!
 
Both the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee are scheduled to meet on Sat. to get through a number of bills that are coming to them from the policy committees. 
 
It is very likely that both the House and Senate will work pretty much straight through to the finish line, beginning next Tuesday, March 3rd. March 6th is the cut-off for bills to be out of the opposite house. And what happens after that?? The remaining six days (the last day of session is March 12th) are spent resolving differences between the original bill and the bill as it came out of the opposite house (if changes had been made), negotiating and hopefully passing the budget, and taking up bills that are considered necessary to implement the budget. A number of committees have meetings to discuss their interim plans and some might do a work session. Time goes quickly, and there is considerable interest in finishing on schedule, and not having to have a special session!
 
THANK YOU
We would like to take this opportunity to thank so many individuals who have come to Olympia, often repeatedly, to testify…. especially those who have shared their personal stories and experiences. It is not easy to speak in front of a legislative committee, but your testimonies have been amazing! They truly make a difference.