Leaders of both parties in Olympia agreed Monday to nearly $500 million in state spending reductions -- only about a quarter of what they need to shore up the state’s $2 billion budget hole.
But at least the lawmakers will have something to show for the special legislative session.
The deal Monday involved some of the easier, less controversial items. “This is all low hanging fruit,” said Democrat Ross Hunter, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee. “This is all stuff that didn’t make anyone’s head explode. There are people whose hair is burning, but they haven’t actually exploded.”
Here are the major elements of Monday's $479 million deal.
- $83 million from agency savings
- $51 million transferring unclaimed property to the General Fund
- $50 million delaying school bus payments
- $23 million delaying mental health assessments
Though Monday's agreement is bipartisan and is expected to pass the Legislature by week’s end, Republicans did express some frustration.
“I’m a little disappointed in the fact that I think we could have gotten further down the pike toward addressing the overall $2 billion,” Republican state Rep. Gary Alexander said.
Though this deal does get legislators a quarter of the way, what it underscores is how much work they all face when they return to for the regular session in January.
The governor had hoped to get all budget stuff done this month so that lawmakers could focus on jobs during the regular session. But clearly the budget will continue to occupy them when they reconvene after the New Year.