The prospects of avoiding a 2012 Special Session to balance the budget will likely hinge on the Senate’s appetite for budget gimmicks or the House’s willingness to back down from its proposal to kick $405 million of K-12 school payments down the road into the next budget.
Unlike their Republican counterpart’s budget proposal, House Democrats today released a plan that pencils out in the short-term because an “Accounting gimmick is biggest part of state House budget moves” as noted by the Seattle Times.
From the House Democrat budget summary:
“A net savings of $405 million is achieved by delaying certain payments within the 2012-13 school year. A portion of the June 2013 apportionment payment to districts is moved to July 2013 (the first month of the next biennium). Similarly, the May and June 2013 levy equalization payments are delayed to July 2013.”
Along with the utilization of the $405 million K-12 payment gimmick, the other major difference between the House Republican and Democrat budget proposal is the amount spent and ending fund balance. Republican’s leave a reserve of $651 million with $30.542 billion spent (reserve is 2.1% of spending) while Democrats leave a $504 million reserve with $30.661 billion spent (reserve is 1.6% of spending). For budget stability, a reserve of at least 5% is recommended.
A potential shortfall of nearly $2 billion is already being projected for the next budget unless structural spending changes are made now.
A public hearing is scheduled for 3:30 today in the House Ways and Means Committee on the Democrat’s budget. The 233 page budget proposal was first released at 9:15 this morning.