Legisletter – March 31, 2015

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The House and Senate finally rolled out their spending proposals for the 2015-17 biennium. With less than a month to go before the end of the regular session, the focus will now shift toward reaching an agreement between these two different budget proposals.

 

Here are some highlights:

  • Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP)
    • House and Senate both funded VSP at $7.6 million from the Public Works Assistance Account
  • Wolves
    • House funded research on predation prevention practices
    • House funded $850,000 to hire facilitator to work with WA Department of Fish & Wildlife, Wolf Advisory Group and stakeholders
    • Senate funded $421,000 to implement SB 5960 that requires WDFW to update its wolf management plan
  • Fair Funding
    • House funded at $2.3 million
    • Senate funded at full level of $4 million
  • Reform of Wildland Fire Fighting
    • House provided $1 million to implement the wildland fire suppression bill, HB 2093
  • Ag Dairy Nutrient Management Program
    • Senate funded $575,000 for a program that provides training in agronomic application of dairy nutrients
  • Flood Plain Management/Ag Lands Protection
    • Senate funded $343,000 to implement SB 5347 to create three demonstration projects.
  • Tax Preference for Food Processors
    • Senate assumed passage of SB 5698 that extends the tax incentives for food processors
  • New Taxes
    • House included $1.5 billion in new taxes. Created Capital Gains tax on “the super wealthy.” Tax rate of 5% on capital gains of $50,000 or more. Carbon tax is still on the table but was apparently not included because of lack of support in Senate.
  • Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project PSNERP) 
    • Senate budget directs WDFW to not use agency funds as a match for any activities, including planning and permitting, connected to PSNERP.

 

It is very likely that each of the budgets will be voted out of their originating chambers this week, beginning formal negotiations between the two bodies.