Senate and House leaders meet to discuss budget negotiations

OLYMPIA…As the 2015 legislative session nears the end of its 105 day limit, Senate Majority Coalition budget negotiators are reaching across the aisle and Rotunda to end on time and on budget. The Senate has passed a complete budget. The House has passed a $39 billion spending plan. This is an important difference between the chambers that must be reconciled before the April 26 deadline.

“We are doing everything we can to work with our House counterparts,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, “Our priorities are very similar but we have a different approach that we are working together to address. The people of Washington should know that the Senate is doing everything we can to ensure we adjourn on time and on budget with no new taxes.”

Schoesler added the Senate majority’s budget is balanced over 4 years and includes no new taxes. “We believe the $3 billion of additional projected revenue coming to the state is enough to fully fund schools, prioritize higher education and preserve essential services,” Schoesler said. The House budget increases spending by 15 percent and includes a $1.5 billion tax increase that has yet to be approved by that chamber.

Both budgets spend nearly identical amounts of marijuana revenue — $295 million in the Senate plan and $270 million in the House plan.

“We need to have open and honest discussions if we are going to find a compromise that works for the state of Washington,” said Sen. John Braun, vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee, “I believe that people in our state expect us to meet our constitutional deadline of 105 days to finish the budget. Our state’s budget is growing at over 8 percent without a tax increase, and that is more than sufficient to fund the real priorities of state government.”