Progress in state budget talks

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Andy Hill

Washington House and Senate budget negotiators have tentatively agreed on how much the state’s main budget will spend in 2015-2017.

Now Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, and Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, have to get the approval of their caucuses on the tentative figure. Hunter and Hill met, with Gov. Jay Inslee mediating Friday morning, to reach that figure. Both declined to talk to the press afterward.

David Schumacher, the director of the state Office of Financial Management, declined to say what the tentative figure is. “It’s right now at the middle,” he said. The Senate Republicans’ previous public budget stance was about $37.9 billion, and the House Democrats’ last public stance was about $38.4 billion.

If their caucuses sign off on the total budget figure, then negotiators will have to tackle numerous differences on how much money should be spent on specific services and budget line items.

Also, a key difference is that Republicans want to borrow some money from outside funds and make some cuts to fill in the final budget gap. Meanwhile, Democrats want to tackle that problem with a 5 percent capital gains tax on individuals earning at least $25,000 or couples earning at least $50,000 a year on capital gains. Primary residences, retirement accounts and most agriculture- and timber-related capital gains would be exempt. Each side has been dead set against the other’s approach.

The Legislature is in its second 30-day special session because the two sides could not reach agreements on the budget and on a $15 billion, 16-year transportation projects package when the regular 105-day session ended in late April. The second special session ends June 28.

If the two sides don’t pass a budget by June 30, the state government will partly shut down on July 1.


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About the Authors & Contributors

John Stang

John Stang

John Stang is a freelance writer who often covers state government and the environment. He can be reached on email at and on Twitter at @johnstang_8