Morning Fizz

Stripped Out

By Morning Fizz April 13, 2011

1. The state senate released its budget late yesterday, making $4.8 billion in cuts (about $300 million more in cuts than the house proposal). The senate, like the house, preserved core social services such as the Basic Health Plan, the Disability Lifeline, and Apple Health for Kids (though as we noted yesterday, they did so by limiting eligibility).

Compared to the house budget, the senate budget cuts more from K-12 education, including a three percent pay cut for K-12 employees and a $95 million cut to the schools. As for higher ed, the senate allows colleges and universities to raise tuition 16 percent, as opposed to the 13 percent proposed in the house.

The senate did not book the $300 million in revenue included in the house plan from a proposal to privatize the state's liquor distribution system.

The Olympian's summary is here.

[pullquote]Compared to the house budget, the senate budget cuts more from K-12 education, including a three percent pay cut for K-12 employees and a $95 million cut to the schools.[/pullquote]

2. Also in Olympia yesterday: It was cutoff day for (non-budget) legislation from one chamber to get voted out of the opposite chamber. And a couple of bills we've been following all session made it in the nick of time: a bill to let King County institute an emergency car license fee to pay for transit; and a bill to mandate some Waiting for Superman-style education reforms. Our coverage from yesterday is here and here.

3. Another bill we've been following this year, a Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill) proposal that would help domestic partners and infertile hetero couples become parents by hiring women to bear children for them, got gutted in the senate yesterday. Two key provisions—one legalizing paid surrogacy and another that created a presumption that a partner living with a child from birth to age two is a legal parent—were stripped out.

Lt. Governor Brad Owen broke a tie, voting with the Republicans against the legal presumption provision (a provision that, for example, protects a non-biological parent, such as a lesbian in a couple where one partner carried the child, from losing parenting rights in a separation).

Reached after the vote, Pedersen said Owen "was confused about what he was voting on and apologized to me after." And Pedersen put a positive spin on the senate vote, saying the bill was still alive and could be reconciled with the house version to restore the key provisions.

As the bill stands now, for example, a non-biological mother in a lesbian relationship could be treated less equally than a deadbeat dad who is still presumed to be a parent—and would still have to go to court to establish parenthood.

Pedersen's assessment of Owen's vote is curious. Owen, in fact, followed up his tie-breaker by ruling Sen. Lisa Brown's (D-3, Spokane) attempt to restore the presumption provision "out of order."

4. SHARE/WHEEL, a homeless advocacy group that operates several low-cost homeless shelters around the city, will get $21,000 in city funding to pay for bus tickets under an updated human-services funding plan announced by the city yesterday.

A year ago, SHARE/WHEEL threatened to continue camping outside city council members' houses if the city didn't immediately approve spending $50,000 to pay for 20,000 bus tickets, arguing that the city had an obligation to help residents of SHARE shelters, which don't tend to be located in transit hubs like downtown, get around the city. Yesterday's allocation could help ward off another SHARE/WHEEL protest.

5. In yesterday's Fizz, we reported that Vulcan lobbyist Dan McGrady was heading up a group working on a proposal to bring light rail to Ballard and West Seattle. That's not exactly true: In the comments to that post, McGrady said he is merely "working with a group of streetcar/light rail supporters to develop a vision for an expanded streetcar/light rail network in Seattle. ... We have not been asked by the Mayor or anyone else from the City to look at or support any plan to ask the voters for $10 million, and we are not involved in any such effort."

McGrady did not return a call for comment yesterday.
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