Higher gov't costs drain $96M from Wash. budget - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Higher gov't costs drain $96M from Wash. budget

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - Higher government costs are cutting another $96 million from the state's already hurting budget.
     
That's the word from the state Office of Financial Management, which reported its latest estimate of state costs Wednesday.
     
The change means the state's budget deficit gets a little bit larger, now, it's closer to $2.7 billion. Officials say higher teacher costs are the biggest factor in this latest change.
     
State lawmakers are planning to raise taxes and cut state spending to balance the budget. The Democrat-led Legislature is about halfway through its scheduled 60-day session.

Previous Coverage
Wash. Senate starts clearing way for tax hikes

The Legislature's Democratic majority is clearing the way for tax increases with its first major vote to brush aside Initiative 960.
     
But Senate Democrats say they accidentally voted on the wrong version of the bill, and will have to re-vote on a different bill as soon as possible.
     
In a 26-23 vote Tuesday, the Senate moved to suspend until July 2011 the requirement that any tax increases get approval from two-thirds of the Legislature.
     
Majority Democrats say they need to raise taxes to help balance the state budget. Republicans resisted the change, saying the majority was thwarting the will of voters.
     
But in an unusual Tuesday night statement, Senate Democrats say they actually meant to suspend all of I-960, including public advisory votes on tax hikes.


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