Senate Chair’s budget proposal would increase state spending by $4.8 billion

The Senate Ways & Means Committee’s chair has released his 2017–19 operating budget proposal. (There will be a public hearing on the proposal this afternoon.) Under the proposal, near general fund–state plus opportunity pathways (NGFS+) spending would increase by $4.814 billion over the 2015–17 biennium. NGFS+ spending would total $43.268 billion for the biennium. Of the increase, $3.742 billion would go to public schools.

The proposal would balance over four years. In addition to the increase in the revenue forecast, the proposal’s new resources include the property tax levy swap that is part of the Senate-passed education funding plan (which would increase state revenues by $1.521 billion in 2017–19), $197 million in transfers from other funds, and $700 million from the rainy day fund. Total reserves (including the rainy day fund) would be $2.068 billion in 2017–19 and $1.848 billion in 2019–21.

Some spending highlights:

  • Changing the school funding model (pursuant to the Senate-passed education funding plan) would increase spending by a net of $1.8 billion.
  • Spending would increase by $27.4 million to increase resident undergraduate enrollment at the public four-year institutions.
  • Spending would increase by $37.6 million to maintain the state need grant.
  • Eligibility changes would be made to the Working Connections Child Care program to save $44.0 million.
  • Spending would be reduced by $96.0 million in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and WorkFirst programs.
  • Funding for Housing and Essential Needs would be eliminated, saving $52.7 million.
  • Funding for Hepatitis C treatment would increase by $49.8 million.
  • The Health Care Authority would create a single preferred drug list and operate as a single pharmacy benefit manager for Medicaid to save $32.1 million.
  • $76 million would be spent to increase vendor rates for people providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities or long-term care needs.
  • $88.7 million would be spent “to increase services targeted at using the state psychiatric hospitals in a more efficient manner.”
  • The proposal would not fund most collective bargaining agreements. Instead, state employees would get an additional $1,000 for the biennium ($89.8 million).
  • The proposal would fund the collective bargaining agreements with corrections officers ($75.1 million) and state troopers ($3.8 million).
  • Eliminating 10 percent of agency management positions and 1 percent of positions that don’t directly serve the public would save $27.5 million.
  • Eliminating the state contribution to the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Firefighters’ Plan 2 retirement system would save $109 million.
  • Legislative approval would be required of tort claims or judgments that exceed $1 million (SB 5896), which would save $32.7 million.

Also, the proposal assumes enactment of SSB 5875, which would amend the Senate education funding plan to lower the basic per pupil guarantee to $9,200 per student in SY 2018–19 and lower the local effort levy tax rate to $1.55/$1,000 of assessed value (down from $1.88/$1,000).

Additionally, the proposal assumes that revenues would be permanently redirected from the Public Works Assistance Account to the Education Legacy Trust Account.

Here’s our report on Gov. Inslee’s 2017–19 budget proposal, which would increase NGFS+ spending by $8 billion.

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