Morning Fizz

"I'm a little discouraged," Gregoire said.

By Morning Fizz May 17, 2011

1. The state senate and house have been at odds over a bill that would scale back the debt limit on capital projects. The senate has passed Sen. Derek Kilmer's (D-26, Gig Harbor) bill overwhelmingly two times now (once in the general session and promptly again at the start of the special session). Kilmer's bill would lower debt service payments per biennium from nine to seven percent of the general fund.

The liberal house, and in particular house capital budget committee chair Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-44, Snohomish), have not been interested in the bill—sending it back to the senate in the regular session without acting on it.[pullquote]The senate counters that the creeping debt payments ($2 billion currently) are crowding out general fund spending. [/pullquote]

Lowering the limit, Dunshee argues, will sap jobs. The senate counters that the creeping debt payments ($2 billion currently) are crowding out general fund spending.

The bill, which has brought budget talks to a standstill, is finally scheduled for executive session in Dunshee's committee today; compromises that have been discussed, Kilmer tells PubliCola, involve easing the transition to a new, lower (but not quite as low) limit.

2. Despite that encouraging news, the AP reports this morning that the 30-day special session may not be enough time to resolve the budget impasse before the new budget biennium begins July 1.
Top officials in Washington state started preparing Monday for a potential government shutdown in July as lawmakers stalled in their bid to reach a budget compromise.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said she has started holding talks with Cabinet and financial-management leaders about what would happen if there were no spending plan by the time a new budget cycle begins in July. She's seen little progress in budget negotiations in the Legislature and can't recall a time that things have been so bogged down.

"I'm a little discouraged," Gregoire said. She's asked lawmakers for an agreement-in-principle by the end of this week.

3. City council member Tom Rasmussen was in Chicago yesterday attending  former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's inauguration as the Windy City's first new mayor in 22 years. (Richard M. Daley retired after six terms this year.)

What's Rasmussen's connection with Emanuel? Rasmussen's partner, venture capitalist Clayton Lewis, was a high-level staffer for the house Democratic Party caucus, where he worked with Emanuel in the 1980s.

4. Fizz has to admit bias here: We were rooting for UW student lobbyist Andrew Lewis in this year's Associated Students of UW student body presidential election. We got to know Lewis from his gig in Olympia and hoped to seem him (and his "Our Future" slate) win this year's ASUW election.

We are obliged to report, however, that Conor McLean—who won the formidable UW Young Democrats endorsement last month—and his "Huskies United" slate won seven out of eight positions in last week's election, including the presidency, which McLean took with 57.7 percent.

Lewis came in third with 25 percent. [pullquote]His concern is about putting a measure before King County residents that will require them to potentially cut their own bus service.[/pullquote]

5. King County Council member Bob Ferguson, who---as the PI.com reported last week---may not support putting a temporary $20 fee to forestall 600,000 hours in cuts to Metro service, talked to PubliCola yesterday about his indecision on the ballot measure. Ferguson explained yesterday that his concern is about putting a measure before King County residents that will require them to potentially cut their own bus service (as we've reported, even if voters approve the temporary fee, they'll still be looking at 350,000 hours of cuts, compared to 600,000 without the fee).

"If we're going to ask voters to raise fees for two years, I want voters to understand that this still doesn't solve the problem," Ferguson says. "Even people who vote or the fee will see reduced service. ... I want voters to know what [the cuts] mean before I reflexively say yes, I am all for this new fee."

6. A follow-up to yesterday's Fizz: Gov. Chris Gregoire did not, as rumor had it she might, veto a section of a Growth Management Act bill that would have exempted White Center from the state sales tax. That section is key to either Seattle or Burien's decision to annex White Center because the provision simultaneously sends White Center's sales tax money to its new big brother city.

The Seattle City Council will vote on the issue next year.
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