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WashingtonVotes NEWS: Friday, March 27, 2015

Budget hearing moved to Monday. House Education Committee leaves $40 million in federal funding behind

The House Appropriations Committee had scheduled a public hearing on the House version of the 2015-17 state operating budget for 1:30 p.m. today—just two hours after presenting it for the first time at a press conference in Olympia. Another meeting was scheduled for Saturday, possibly to pass the proposal out of committee.

In a letter on Wednesday, House Republican leaders urged House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) to allow more time for the public to review the hundreds of pages of the budget proposal before a public hearing.

House Bill 1106, Governor Inslee’s nearly $40 billion proposed spending plan introduced in January, which will serve as the vehicle for a substitute budget bill, is now scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, March 30 at 1:30 pm in House hearing Room C, John L. O’Brien Office Building, Olympia.

Saturday’s scheduled House Appropriations Committee meeting has been canceled.

Majority Democrats on the House Education committee on Thursday refused to allow a vote on Senate Bill 5748, which would let Washington regain some $40 million for at-risk students under the federal No Child Left Behind act. The Senate passed the bill on March 11 and sent it to the House.

In Thursday’s committee action, House Republicans moved to bring the bill up for a vote to pass it out of committee, but the motion failed on a straight party-line vote

Rep. Chad Magendanz (R-Issaquah), the ranking Republican on the committee, called the vote "a vote to kill the bill, for all intents and purposes," since a public hearing on the legislation isn't scheduled until the education committee's last meeting before the legislative cutoff for policy bills, and votes immediately after public hearings rarely happen.

Washington State University’s plans for a medical school in Spokane moved closer to reality with the passage of House Bill 1559 by a nearly unanimous vote in the Senate on Wednesday. The bill repeals an existing law that limits publicly funded medical schools in the state to the University of Washington. The Senate had passed an identical bill, Senate Bill 5487, earlier this month.

With passage by both chambers, House Bill 1559 is headed to the governor’s desk for signature. While the bill now makes WSU eligible to operate a medical school, funding for it remains the larger issue, as the state’s major universities compete for money in a tight budget year.

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