The flurry of budget activity we saw last week in Olympia was to be expected – since adjournment is scheduled for next week – but despite how close the House and Senate are on the overall budget numbers themselves, the difference in approach between the political parties could not have been clearer: the Republicans in the Senate remain committed to a balanced, bi-partisan and sustainable budget, while the House Democrats prefer straight party-line discipline to bust the budget and demand higher taxes.
Consider that the Senate’s Majority Coalition Caucus budget was released Monday, and passed Thursday on a bi-partisan 41-8 vote. Education spending was increased, but Senators held the line on tax increases, continuing the trend the Republicans started last year. It was a balanced approach that attracted all but the most partisan Democrats to vote for it.
The House was a different story. As noted in the Washington Wire, the proposal released last Wednesday was “crafted by Democrats alone”, and the “base” budget was linked with two additional bills requiring tax increases, including one to pay for union pay increases.
Expect to hear plenty about these differing approaches in the coming months, as the campaigns for control of the state legislature emerge from the final budget negotiations. As the Seattle Times said in an editorial this morning, “The Legislature has less than two weeks to put a do-no-harm budget to bed. The harder work lies ahead.”