Capital budget news conference slated for Weds morning

I overreacted. The news conference at 3:15 was not to detail construction spending, but to announce a sort of agreement to disagree.

The House Democrats refused to go for a proposed constitutional amendment lowering the debt limit from 9 to 7 percent. Instead the debt limit will begin dropping in 2016 until it hits 7.75 percent in 2022. The change will come in the form of a state law instead of a constitutional amendment, which is tough to pass. Passing a law requires 51 percent of the votes in the legislature; a constitutional amendment requires 66 percent.
At today’s news conference the Senate and House Republicans and Senate Democrats, who agreed on the debt limit idea, also said they agreed to appoint a blue ribbon commission to study state debt–all kinds of debt.

What’s in the final capital budget? It’s a $2.8 billion agreement: $1.7 billion cash and $1.1 billion in bonds—that’s about $300 million short of previous proposals. We won’t know exactly what the funds pay for until Wednesday morning’s news conference.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) has assured her local newspaper, however, that capital funding for a Spokane medical school is on the way. According to the Spokesman Review,
It will receive $35 million in the first year of the 2011-13 biennium. That’s a major shift in fortunes for the project, which was left out of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s original proposal in December and at one point was slated for funding in the second year of the biennium.
Actually, the funding is for the Washington State University Spokane Riverpoint Biomedical and Health Services Facility—but you know what they say, if it sounds like a medical school and walks like a medical school……

Meantime, the House has approved the 2011-2013 conference operating budget released today and sent it to the Senate. The legislature has until Wednesday midnight to finish business, which includes all of the bills necessary to implement the budgets as well as the budget bills.

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About Linda Schactler

Linda is the former Director of Communications for the Washington State Senate, and former deputy director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board. From 2000 through 2010 Linda was the proprietor of Schactler Communications, an Olympia-based public affairs business. She holds a master of arts in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Linda can be reached at her Ellensburg office schactler@cwu.edu, 509-963-1384, or on her cell phone, 509-607-4103.
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