This Washington

Truly Bipartisan Bill on Debt Limit May Cause Problems for Zarelli Budget

By Josh Feit March 6, 2012

Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle) and Sen. Joe Zarelli (R-18, Ridgefield) found one thing to agree on last night—a debt limit bill that passed (with actual bipartisan support, 41-7) on Monday. (Only six super liberal Democrats—including Seattle Sens. Adam Kline, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Sharon Nelson, and one Republican, Val Stevens—voted against the bill.)

The bill would lower the capital budget debt limit from 9 percent of general revenue collections to 8 percent. The legislation is something fiscally conservative Democrats, including Murray and Democratic Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-26, Gig Harbor), the capital budget chair, pushed for last year.

Liberal house capital budget chair Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-44, Snohomish) had squashed the idea during the 2011 budget negotiations.

This year, Zarelli and the Republicans made it a must have reform in budget discussions and the senate reached a deal with Dunshee: He'd agree to the lower limit, if they'd agree to pass his $1.2 billion jobs bill which covers construction bonds covered by existing capital budget revenue streams. Sen. Kilmer, who cosponsored the Dunshee's jobs bill,  cosponsored the debt limit bill with Republican Sen. Linda Evans Parlette (R-12, Wenatchee), the ranking Republican on the capital budget committee, who signed off on the deal.

There's a problem, though. Sen. Zarelli's controversial budget—the one the GOP passed out of the senate on Friday night—takes at least $70 million from the capital budget solid waste account and $70 to $80 million from the capital budget toxic cleanup account, two revenue streams Dunshee earmarked to bond against for the $1.2 billion in bonds.

The senate Democrats' budget had also pinched some of Dunshee's bill, though not as much. "Zarelli will take whatever he can get his hands on," Dunshee says.

I have messages in to Sens. Parlette, Zarelli, and Kilmer.
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