Senate budget update improves services, outcomes for taxpayers

Chief Senate budget writer Sen. Andy Hill released the chamber’s 2016 supplemental budget update today, which addresses Washington residents’ priorities and fixes issues at executive-branch state agencies, through additional reforms and oversight from the Legislature.

“Last year lawmakers worked hard to find agreement on historic investments in our education system without raising taxes, which received overwhelming bipartisan support,” said Hill, of Redmond, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “This year’s budget update is simply an opportunity to put important reforms in place to improve our state agencies in order to deliver better results for both taxpayers and those receiving critical services.”

The supplemental plan increases state spending by $49 million in 2015-17’s overall $38 billion operating budget, while making investments and reforms at the Health Care Authority, Western State Hospital, Department of Corrections, and the Department of Social and Health Services. Investments include increased protections for people with developmental disabilities, and wildfire prevention and suppression costs for the Department of Natural Resources.

The plan also complies with Washington’s unique four-year balanced-budget requirement, which sets it apart from the governor’s plan – which is out of balance by $850 million – and the House of Representatives’ plan, which does away with the existing law to prevent budget gimmicks.

“Our plan continues to invest in the priorities important to Washington residents and builds on results from the 2015 session, while not taking any more money from working families,” said Hill. “I look forward to continue working in a bipartisan manner like we have the past three years with our House colleagues to reach a final agreement before this session comes to an end.”

The supplemental budget proposal will receive a public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee today at 3:30 p.m.; it may be viewed online at www.TVW.org.