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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The House Ways and Means Committee will hear the House Democrats' supplemental budget proposal (PSHB 1694) this afternoon.

Three important things to note:
  • The House proposal does not assume any maintenance level changes, making comparisons with the Governor's proposal potentially misleading.
  • The House proposal reduces the current budget by $172 million more than the Governor’s supplemental budget.
  • Both budgets assume the same level of federal stimulus money (assumptions that may be too low given recent developments in D.C.); the House proposal assumes less total federal contribution.
The table below summarizes the key big-picture components of the House Democrats' proposal and the Governor’s proposal. Details follow.

The House proposal does not assume any maintenance level changes

Caution should be exercised when comparing the House proposal with the Governor’s supplemental proposal. Here’s why: the Governor’s budget follows the standard maintenance level approach to supplemental budgets while the House proposal does not.

The maintenance budget is intended to account for changes in the cost of doing what we’ve committed to doing in the current budget. The most significant maintenance budget changes are public school enrollment, enrollment in medical assistance programs, and corrections caseloads.

For example, the state now expects over 1,700 more students in the current school year then was expected when the current budget was passed. Because the House proposal does not account for the increased enrollment, it already starts with a reduction in services. The same money has to be spread between more students. So, for example, while neither budget explicitly proposes cuts in the general apportionment (the primary pot of state money for local school districts), the House proposal would actually spend $21 million less than the Governor’s proposal. In total, the House proposal would spend $44 million less on K-12 education than the Governor’s budget.

In medical assistance, the House Democrats propose $160.1 million in cuts, compared to $164.7 in the Governor’s budget. But that difference is misleading. Because of the lack of a maintenance level in the House proposal, it would spend $70 million less than the Governor’s proposal.

The House Democrats propose deeper cuts in total than the Governor's proposal

While there are important differences within certain programs, the 2007-09 state budget would be $172 million lower under the House proposal than under the Governor's budget. The bulk of the difference is in the three areas where the Governor responds to caseload increases and makes significant maintenance changes: medical assistance, public schools, and corrections. (see graph below).

Both budgets assume federal stimulus; the House proposal assumes less total federal contribution

Both budgets assume that $205 million in state Medicaid spending will be replaced by federal funds made available in a federal stimulus package. Prospects for significant federal funding are good and funds may be much more than initially anticipated. We'll be posting more on that soon. See Joe Turner's post in the meantime.

Both budgets also assume that $133 million in federal contingency funding for TANF will be available to allow for an equal reduction in state spending.

While both budgets assume the same new Medicaid and TANF funding, the House proposal assumes $92 million less in total federal funding. This seems to be largely because lower health care spending in that proposal would result in lower federal contribution.

Data comes from the Washington Fiscal Information website. The title of this post has changed since first published.

1 comment:

Uncle Vinny said...

It's unbelievable to me that they aren't recommending tax increases. I'm so frustrated that health care, education and basic human services are getting cut; I really assumed that the Governor would let the legislature take the "blame" for suggesting higher taxes, even though it's obviously necessary.