WELCOME TO WEEK 11 OF THE 2013 LEGISLATIVE SESSION!
The big news this week was the release of Governor Inslee's budget priorities on March 28th. While a full budget document was not released, he offered highlights of his spending and revenue plan (below). While it is unclear exactly when the Senate budget will be released, it is expected to come out sometime next week -- followed by the release of the House budget. How much they resemble one another remains to be seen; however, Governor Inslee relied on additional revenue (by closing tax loopholes and continuing two taxes due to expire) to avoid balancing the budget through cuts alone. He also used the additional revenue to make some enhancements (in addition to K-12 education) in various parts of the budget. Given the $1B+ deficit and need to fund McCleary, major cuts seem inevitable without additional revenue. Stay tuned.....
Highlights from Governor Inslee's budget priorities:
- Family Assessment Response: $8.3M GFS; $26.5M total. Funding covers the anticipated costs for increased staffing (62.4 FTEs), support services, and concrete goods to help stabilize families.
- Performance Based Contracting: $.4M GFS; $.7M total. Funding will support department staffing (3.5 FTEs) that will work with contracted network administrators to ensure positive performance outcomes.
- Child Protective Services: $5.9M GFS; $7.6M total. Funding and FTE is provided to lower caseloads for Child Protective Services workers to reduce response and investigation times. Current caseloads are above the recommended level of 1:15 cases per caseworker.
- WorkFirst reduction: $70M is reduced; however, $35M is reinvested to: move homeless children and families to stable housing, reinstate the Career Services program to increase federal participation, make improvements to the limited English proficiency pathways, implement the TANF Predictive Risk Information System, and increase utilization of vocational education services through the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. [Note: It appears that this is what the budget did; however, further analysis is needed!]
- Reduce/Modify Safety Net Programs: $26.9M GFS is eliminated -- With the elimination of state-administered incapacity examinations and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) facilitation services, the Aged Blind and Disabled (ABD) / Pregnant Women (PW) Assistance Program and the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) Program are modified. The ABD/PW Assistance Program, which currently provides up to a $197 monthly cash benefit to about 25,100 eligible participants, will be reduced to provide cash benefits to only the aged population, which is approximately 3,600 individuals per month. All other ABD and PW participants may be eligible for housing assistance, essential needs supports, and/or SSI facilitation assistance through the HEN Program.
- Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program: $35M GFS -- The budget invests funds to expand by 3,035 slots and improve quality through increased classroom hours and professional development.
- Expand full-day kindergarten: $116.2M -- Expands full-day kindergarten to all high-poverty schools.
- Reduce class size for kindergarten and 1st grade for all high-poverty schools: $128M - Reduces class size from 24 to 20.
- Ensure 3rd grade literacy: $12.5M
- Dropout action plan grants: $1.3M -- Funding is provided to offer $10,000 grants to 63 districts per year to facilitate use of the uniform dropout risk assessment tool and develop plans of action to reduce their district's dropout rate.
- $565.2M from repealing/modifying tax breaks.
- $661.6M from extending revenues from the 0.3% B&O tax surcharge and the 50-cent beer tax.
- Total = $1.2+ billion
In Other News....
The cut-off for bills to be out of the opposite house policy committees is April 3rd, which means the committees have been busy hearing and passing bills. Bills not out by the 3rd, unless they are budget bills or NTIB (necessary to implement the budget), will be dead. Bills with a fiscal impact have until April 9th to get out.... Then it's on to Rules and out of the opposite house by April 17th. A lot has to happen between now and the 17th!
- April 3rd - Bills must be out of the policy committee in the opposite house
- April 9th - Bills must be out of the fiscal committee in the opposite house
- April 17th - Last day to consider bills from the opposite house
- April 28th - Last day of the regular session
Have a great weekend!