The 2007 Legislature: A user's guide to the session
State lawmakers get out the checkbook starting Monday as they convene in Olympia to write a new two-year state operating budget.
They'll also divvy up billions of dollars in transportation and construction spending, and consider major education and health-care legislation.
Democrats control the House and Senate, as well as the governor's office. Lawmakers start the 105-day session with a projected $1.9 billion surplus for the 2007-09 biennium.
Gov. Christine Gregoire last month proposed a $30 billion two-year budget that would burn through much of that surplus. In all, Gregoire wants to increase state spending by about $4 billion, with more than half going to education. She would add nearly 3,800 new state workers, not counting the hundreds of new teachers.
Such a spending increase could come back to haunt lawmakers. The governor's own budget office projects her proposal would create about a $650 million hole in the next 2009-11 budget cycle — after spending all the money she wants to put into reserves.
Gregoire also proposes a constitutionally protected "rainy day" savings account. It's an idea Republicans have pushed for several years, but one that some Democrats balk at.
Lawmakers undoubtedly will have other competing proposals. That could lead to some heated tussles between Gregoire and her fellow Democrats.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company