More from the Senate budget proposal

The Senate Ways & Means Chair presented his 2017–19 operating budget proposal yesterday. I provided some highlights yesterday. Today the committee is expected to act on the budget bill (SB 5048) in executive session.

The chart shows the carryforward, maintenance, and policy changes in the proposal. Near general fund–state plus opportunity pathways (NGFS+) spending would increase by $4.815 billion over 2015–17 (not including appropriations in other legislation). Of that, $933.9 million is carryforward, $2.244 billion is maintenance, and $1.637 billion is policy. (As we’ve noted, the carryforward level is the biennialized cost of decisions already appropriated; maintenance level adds the costs of things like caseload, enrollment, and inflation changes; and policy level includes the new things the Legislature would like to do.)

As the chart shows, the spending increases are concentrated in public schools. NGFS+ spending on public schools would increase by 20.6 percent over 2015–17, while spending on everything else would increase by 5.3 percent. Spending on public schools would make up 50.7 percent of the NGFS+ budget.

Policy changes would reduce spending for the Health Care Authority by a net of $81.5 million. The proposal would use some of the marijuana tax revenues that would otherwise go to the Basic Health Trust Account for low income health care, saving $79.0 million in the GFS.

Policy changes for the Department of Social and Health Services would increase by a net of $16.6 million. Within DSHS, policy spending for the Economic Services Administration would be reduced by $131.7 million (there would be many changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Working Connections Child Care programs). Meanwhile, policy changes for mental health programs would increase by $76.0 million and policy changes for long-term care programs would increase by $61.1 million.

In higher education, policy changes would increase spending for each of the four year institutions on net. But there would be some NGFS+ reductions: “It is assumed that the state's public institutions of higher education will reduce overall waiver activity to replace a $19.9 million General Fund-State reduction in full tuition collected from enrolled students.”

Special appropriations includes $156.1 million in policy increases reflecting compensation changes for state employees. (This includes the 10 percent management reduction that would reduce spending by $21.7 million.) Additionally, there would be policy reductions in contributions to retirement systems. The proposal would suspend the transfer of $50.0 million to the local public safety enhancement account (the governor’s proposal would also do this). Also, the state would not make its $108.7 million contribution to the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Firefighters’ Retirement System plan 2 (local employers would have to pay it).

Finally, the proposal assumes the implementation of SB 5866, which would create a tax court (see our recent report); SB 5822, which would make reforms to the workers’ compensation system; and SB 5900, which would appropriate $700.0 million from the budget stabilization account for the unfunded liability in the Public Employees’ Retirement System plan 1.

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