Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane) will serve as vice chair of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee during the upcoming legislative session, which begins Jan. 14.
His election to that position by his fellow majority House Democrats comes as lawmakers prepare for what is widely predicted to be the most challenging budget session in memory. Despite continuing signs of modest improvement in Washington’s economy, legislators will open the 105-day session between a rock – a projected gap of $900 million between expected revenue and current state obligations – and a Supreme Court-imposed hard place, as they look for an extra $1 billion in funding for basic education.
The House Appropriations Committee will be at the center of the budget struggle, charged with writing the operating budget bill, considering global fiscal issues such as pension policy and compensation, and dealing with other bills expected to have significant fiscal impacts. The committee also coordinates the budget-writing work of three Appropriations subcommittees: on education, general government, and health and human services.
“No question,” Ormsby says, “this is going to be a difficult session, but I’ve been here since 2003 and I haven’t seen an easy one yet. What we want is a state budget that is fair, smart, humane and sustainable, and there are certainly going to be roadblocks; we already know what they are. But we’ll do what’s in our control, and hope that some of those roadblocks turn out to be more like speed bumps by the time we get to them.”
In addition to serving as vice chair of the Appropriations Committee itself, Ormsby will be a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services, and he will continue to be a member of the Labor & Workforce Development Committee.
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