State Senate, House don’t see eye to eye on budgets

Differences on Morse Creek, Hadlock wastewater facility, Boys & Girls Clubs, boatbuilding school

OLYMPIA — State lawmakers released House and Senate capital budgets for 2019-2021 last week that include spending on some of the same projects, increasing their chances for approval and Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature by the scheduled end of the session April 28.

On other spending, the chambers will have to negotiate final amounts — if certain spending is approved at all.

Budgets from both chambers include $1.1 million for the Port Angeles Waterfront Center in Clallam County, which is in the planning stages, and more than $4 million for Fort Worden State Park infrastructure improvements in Port Townsend, including $613,000 for pier and learning center improvements.

Lawmakers must come up with one plan for Inslee’s approval.

“We still have to negotiate a deal in the two chambers,” 24th District state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, a Sequim Democrat, said Friday.

“Not until [Inslee] signs is it really a done deal, but they are in a really good place, for sure.”

The two houses will have to resolve such differences as a House budget that contains $1.4 million for the Port Hadlock wastewater facility project and a total of $704,000 for the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, both in Jefferson County, compared to a Senate budget with just $200,000 for the wastewater facility and $264,000 for the boatbuilding school.

Some member-sponsored legislation such as funding for $5 million in improvements to the Morse Creek curve east of Port Angeles that are near and dear to some community residents and to 24th District Rep. Mike Chapman may face an even tougher future.

The barrier would divide the eastbound and westbound lanes along the sweeping, safety-challenged curve that tops the list of state Department of Transportation (DOT) safety-improvement needs on 42 urban-non-freeway locations in DOT’s seven-county Olympic Region.

Chapman took credit for securing funding for the project in the House budget.

The House transportation budget funds $2.5 million for design and startup construction for low, boulevard-style barrier on U.S. Highway 101 and another $2.5 million for construction in the next biennium, 2021-2023 that would have to be approved as part of that budget cycle.

The Senate does not include any funding for the barriers.

“It all depends on what they end up negotiating and whether member-sponsored programs are in there at all,” Van De Wege said.

“If member projects are in there, it stands a very good shot.”

Chapman, a Port Angeles Democrat, said Friday he’s certain the barrier will be built, it’s just a question of where the money will come from.

“It has to, it’s the Number 1 project in the district,” he said.

“It’s a certainty that the state at some point will have to fund this project.

“There are pots of money the state can pull from.

“How it gets funded, that’s up to the budget negotiators.”

Pool, B&G Clubs

Other funding in the House budget but not the Senate plan includes Port Angeles funding of $840,000 for William Shore Memorial Pool, $500,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, and $225,000 for Captain Joseph House.

Negotiators are hashing out budgets of $52.8 billion passed in the house and $52.2 billion passed in the Senate.

“There are going to be some real differences that have to be worked out,” said 24th District state Sen. Steve Tharinger.

The Senate budget includes “heavy cuts” in health care, the Port Townsend Democrat said.

The two plans also includes competing revenue-generating proposals.

Both the House and Senate propose capital gains tax increases, but the Senate plans 8.9 percent on profits above $250,000, to fund such measures as a cut to the business and occupation tax for most small businesses and an expansion of senior-citizen property tax reductions, is not part of the biennial spending plan. Instead, it’s stand-alone legislation.

House members have proposed a 9.9 percent capital gains tax on single-filer profits of $100,000 or more and married-couple profits of $200,000 or more.

Special session?

Tharinger, Chapman and Van De Wege had differing views on whether House and Senate lawmakers could resolve their differences without a special session and the end-of-session deadline looming just 20 days away.

“I think there’s a very solid chance we will go into a special session this year,” Van De Wege said, citing deep divisions on funding for education and issues surrounding school levies.

Tharinger, chair of the House Capital Budget Committee, was more hopeful.

“There’s no question there’s time to get it done,” he said, adding it will take some work to resolve the differences.

Chapman said he is working as though three weeks are left in the session, and that’s it.

“I’m not in leadership, I’m not on the budget team, I’m just trying to get my work done in three weeks,” he said.

Budgets can be found at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-2019-2021Budgets.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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