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June 3, 2015

Second Special Session Needed

The first 30-day special session of the Legislature ended last Thursday and Governor Jay Inslee immediately called the second 30-day special session which began on Friday, May 29. The second session will end on June 27 unless the Legislature is able to approve the 2015-2017 operating budget earlier. A new operating budget must be enacted before the start of the new fiscal year, July 1, 2015, or all nonessential functions of the state government will be shut down.

This is the first issue of the Advocacy Bulletin in a month because there was very little happening in the Legislature during the first special session.  For most of the 30 days, legislators remained home except for those involved in budget negotiations. During the first week of the second special session, the Senate Ways & Means Committee passed a new budget, and this week the House released a new version of its proposed budget.

In general, the House and the Senate budgets have moved closer to each other. The House has pared back on spending and the Senate has increased spending. While both sides are nearer than they were at the beginning of the first special session, significant differences remain to be resolved before a budget can be passed by the Legislature.

The new Senate budget has several improvements for social services, especially in the area of funding for mental health services.  The revised House budget also increases support for those living in poverty, especially in the areas of child care, health care, and mental health services. The Senate budget still does not rely on a tax increase, and the House still relies on a revised small capital gains tax.

There are many options for securing adequate revenue and WSCC's position is that there must be sufficient revenue to avoid cuts to social services and to restore the cuts to essential services.

Click here to view previous WSCC advocacy bulletins.  Click here to view this bulletin on the WSCC website.

The Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Washington State.