1. As they presented their own budget yesterday, the house Democrats continued to trash the senate Republicans' alternative proposal for booking unspecified savings from things like $65 million in Lean management efficiencies. (Lean management prioritizes resources with the customer in mind).
"If you want to cut something, you actually have to say what it is you're going to cut," Democratic budget leader Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina) said.
Fizz asked Republican senate budget leader Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Redmond) to detail the Lean savings. Hill laughed: "Ross' budget has $20 million in savings from Lean." (True.)
Asked about his own squishy Lean management savings, Hunter said, "The governor asked me to put that in there."
Which brings the madness full circle.
Inslee himself didn't book any savings from Lean efficiencies in his own budget (even though he talked incessantly about Lean savings on the campaign trail).
When he released his budget two weeks ago, Inslee's Office of Financial Management dDirector David Schumacher explained that booking savings from Lean "seemed like an artificial way of making our balance sheet look better. Our balance sheet is based on solid numbers."
2. Another subject of debate in the budget battle: The senate transfers $166 million from the Department of Natural Resources' land trust fund into the general fund. Rep. Hunter says that's unconstitutional because the money is supposed to go to school construction.
"Read article nine section three," Hunter said yesterday when asked to make the case that the senate move was illegal. "It says that money is provided exclusively for school construction."
He went on, sarcastically, to challenge the GOP rejoinder that there is excess money in the fund: "Because we have an excess of funds for school construction .. because clearly we've built all schools we need. Seriously? You may have a convoluted argument that we have extra money, but go ask a local school district. It's just not true."
"Because clearly we've built all schools we need. Seriously? You may have a convoluted argument that we have extra money, but go ask a local school district. It's just not true."—Rep. Hunter
Again, back to Hill. He says his budget has been vetted by staff and there's no problem with the transfer.
Article nine, section three does say this: "There is hereby established the common school construction fund to be used exclusively for the purpose of financing the construction of facilities for the common schools;" though Fizz doesn't have a law degree, and there are plenty of "shalls" and "herebys" in the whole section.
We'll check in with LawNerd.
3. Another house budget item: Hunter's sidekick, Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Ballard)—the finance chair who's on a mission to eliminate outdated and flawed tax exemptions (the house budget counts $500 million from a list of tax breaks Carlyle put on the chopping block)—has also put a proviso in the budget asking for an economic analysis of the controversial coal train proposal.
Carlyle says: "We hope to capture the net economic impacts of the proposed projects ... We refuse to let the project proponents and the federal government be the only sources of information on this ... and this study will produce a rigorous and objective analysis that will ... inform decision-makers at the state level."
4. Tunnel construction is well underway, the deep-bore tunnel machine is being assembled, and even Mayor Mike McGinn seems to have pretty much forgotten the tunnel issue ever existed (that is, he will until the overruns kick in), but Elizabeth Campbell, the Magnolia activist-turned-anti-tunnel crusader, is back again—yesterday, she officially filed the new Terminate the Tunnel measure, this one an initiative to the legislature.
Terminate the Seattle Deep Bored Tunnel Initiative doesn't exactly roll trippingly off the tongue (TSDBT?) but at least it doesn't have the same unfortunate acronym as Campbell's last anti-tunnel group, Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel.