State Rep. Tami Green, a leader of the Blue-Green Alliance
Today's Morning Fizz quoted an angry email by dissident State Rep. Brendan Williams (D-22, Olympia) that trashed House leadership for proposing a budget that cuts social services and environmental programs. (He specifically called out the neutered version of the hazardous substance tax we wrote about yesterday.)
Williams—a member of the 16-member Green-Blue Alliance, an ad hoc crew of environmental and labor progressives in the Democratic caucus who have sworn to make sure this year's budget skews left—said in his email that the Alliance was going to come forward with a stack of amendments. Williams wrote:
I have a floor amendment to Substitute Senate Bill 6444 that would restore $4.42 million in funding to the Department of Health for medical nutritional therapy services, AIDS education, the HIV Client Services program, and regional AIDS Network grants. Would it not be unconscionable to literally take food out of the mouths of AIDS patients? My amendment is one of a couple-dozen floor amendments to the 2010 supplemental operating budget that I and other progressives in a Blue-Green Alliance of over a dozen House members have offered.
The deadline for amendments is today at 1 pm, but I went through the stack of 40 amendments submitted so far (from all legislators, not just the Blue-Green contingent) to see what reps are proposing.
Blue-Green Alliance reps.—such as Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33), Rep. Geoff Simpson (D-47), Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-23 ), and Rep. Tami Green (D-28)—are well represented in the parade of amendments.
Upthegrove, an ally of environmental advocates, has an amendment that would restore $6 million in environmental programs that have been cut, including the Department of Ecology's hazardous waste cleanup program; its solid waste cleanup program; its toxic cleanup program; its air quality program; its water quality program; its shorelands program; and funding for local watershed planning.
Other big agenda items for the Alliance: Rep Mary Helen Roberts (D-21) has a $30 million amendment to restore the "Working Connections" program, which pays for child care for the working poor; Rep. Appleton has a $1.7 million amendment to restore adult day health care serving 1,678 clients; Rep. Simpson has a $625,000 amendment to help enforce the Growth Management Act and a $5.5 million amendment to restore in-home health care; and labor ally Rep. Green has arguably the most contentious—and expensive—amendment of all, funding state employee health care, an $80 million proposal.
House Finance Chair Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48) says, "you can't add spending without finding revenue or cuts and you've got to have the votes. I don't have the votes for hundreds of millions in new revenue." He calls the $50 million cut he made to Working Connections program "awful," but saying he "doesn't have the revenue," concludes: "We're stuck with awful choices."
Not counting a GOP amendment from Rep. Mike Armstrong (R-22) that would slash state employee pay, all 40 amendments would add about $136 million to state costs. That means the ending fund balance on the House side—currently at $428 million (including an iffy $641 million in federal funding, $653 million in cuts, and $857 million in new revenue)—would drop to $292 million.