State Budget Crisis
5:17 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Special Session tomorrow to cut state budget

Washington's lawmakers will meet in special session on Saturday to start chopping away at a billion-dollar budget shortfall. The governor and legislative leaders emerged from a closed door meeting yesterday with a budget deal. 

The plan is for a one-day special session. Legislative leaders from both parties and Governor Chris Gregoire have agreed to an immediate round of fresh cuts. The goal is to reduce the current $1.1 billion budget shortfall by about half. 

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kplu/local-kplu-939425.mp3

A third of the savings will come from moving federal education dollars into the state’s general fund. In addition, the plan calls for reducing eligibility for the Washington’s Basic Health Plan and cutting funding that school districts use to keep Kindergarten through fourth grade class sizes smaller.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) says these are cuts teachers and others will feel.

“I believe people lose their jobs because of these reductions. Some people will lose health care. People who currently have the Basic Health Plan will potentially lose the Basic Health Plan,” says Brown.

The agreement also calls for reducing the size of the monthly cash stipend that goes to people on the Disability Lifeline program,  and closing McNeil Island Prison.

Washington lawmakers will still have to come back in January to solve a multi-billion dollar shortfall through 2013.