State Representative Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina), Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, released a plan this afternoon to cut $340 million from the remaining six months of the current biennium. Olympia needs to cut $1.1 billion from the current budget. Even after $588 million in cuts from the December special session, Hunter's new plan still leaves legislators with a $260 million shortfall for the biennium's remaining six months.

The plan makes $216.5 million in cuts and $123.8 in fund transfers. The bill cuts $173.5 million from the Department of Social and Health Services alone, including $71.4 million in reductions to long-term care services, including reductions in home care hours, and $21.9 million in mental health reductions. The plan keeps K-12 funding stable through the biennium, though cuts higher education by $4.5 million.

"We couldn’t save everything, but we really prioritized core services for kids,” Hunter said in a statement.

The proposed supplemental budget differs from Governor Gregoire's earlier proposal by continuing to fund at current levels Apple Health For Kids, a $30 million program which provides health care coverage for some 27,000 Washington children, and the $34 million Disability Lifeline, a program that provides income to disabled and out-of-work Washingtonians.

On the K-12 side, the budget restores levy equalization dollars to lower-income schools around the state, which Gregoire had previously cut. Even after these cuts and transfers, however, legislators are still faced with the daunting task of crafting a 2011-2013 budget to solve a projected $4.6 billion shortfall.
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