The House is now on the floor, taking up HB 2058, the $480 million in cuts and fund transfers negotiated over special session. You can watch live on TVW.
Rep. Charles Ross brought up an amendment (that had previously failed in committee) to cut funding to Commute Trip Reduction (also here). The program provides incentives for state employees who carpool to work.
Rep. Ross Hunter said he urged members to vote against the amendment because it was not part of cuts negotiated with the Senate.
But Republican lawmakers argued that the program is unnecessary, especially as the state considers cutting social service programs.
That amendment — the only one — failed. Now, onto debate over the main bill.
“This has been the beginning of our budget process and I think we’re far from the end,” said Rep. Ross Hunter, chairman of the budget writing committee. He called the $480 million in cuts and transfers an “initial, partial down payment” on the state’s $1.4 billion budget problem.
“Yes, a very partial down payment,” said Rep. Gary Alexander, the lead Republican on the Ways and Means committee. “We have a lot left ahead of us,” he said, but urged Republican support. “Hopefully when we come back in January, we can take a quick step forward.”
Rep. Brad Klippert said he intended to vote for the bill, but can’t support so many of the fund transfers, which he says punish fiscally responsible agencies that have built up reserves, only to see their reserves clawed back by the legislature.
“This legislature is not doing this job. Now, I’m going to vote for this thing because it advances us a little bit,” said Rep. Ed Orcutt. But, he said, “in no way” is this what the citizens of Washington deserve.
Rep. Bill Hinkle said he supports the bill, but “either way, people are going to be mad at all of us, by the way,” he said, because lawmakers will return home without sewing up the entire budget problem.
The bill passed 86 to 8 and now heads to the Senate.