March 7, 2010

House passes budget, Interpreters bills

The House on Friday passed SSB 6444, the supplemental budget, with important, good changes on furloughs and health funding.

It now must go back to the Senate because the House made changes after the Senate first passed SSB 6444.

The House adopted amendments that increases funding for your health benefits, but calls on the governor to go to the bargaining table to push for a change in the share of premiums the state and employees pay. Currently, the state pays 88 percent, employees 12 percent. So this is a step in the right direction, even though there are some troubling parts, especially the caving in to the crowd that wants to balance this with higher employee premium payments. So stay tuned.

The House also stripped out budget language mandating furloughs, instead directing state agencies and higher education institutions to reduce state compensation costs by $48 million. So, stay tuned on this one, too.

The House also restored funding for seven positions at Eastern State Hospital, seven at Western State Hospital and for important programs in Ecology, Health and Commerce.

The final vote was 55-43.

Again, the Senate and House must work out their differences. And on institutions closures, furloughs, health care and other key areas, the differences are significant. 


The House on Friday also passed the Federation-initiated interpreters collective bargaining bill, 58-40. The House did approve amendments, so ESSB 6726 must go back to the Senate, which must concur in those amendments.

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