KING 5 asked public radio political reporter Austin Jenkins of Northwest News Network who were the big winners and losers in this budget.
AJ: Public school kids are the big winners. There's a billion dollars more for public schools in this budget. The losers might be the state's teachers union. They're saying that they feel the billion dollars extra comes out of their hide because they're not getting cost of living increases.
LM: To pay for the package, lawmakers closed a few tax exemptions and borrowed from the capital and construction budget. But the biggest plus seemed to be more revenue pouring in from an imporving economy. What do you think played a bigger role in getting to a deal -- the fact that there was a deadline or that there was such good news about revenues?
AJ: At the very end, no doubt, it was the deadline, the coming government shutdown. Nobody I talked to down here wanted to cross that line and see what happens when you don't have a budget on July 1st. But certainly that additional revenue from the recovering economy in the last couple of weeks gave them some breathing room and helped bridge some differences.
LM: What is the status of the transportation revenue package?
AJ: The House has passed a ten and a half cent gas tax increase to fund maintenance and preservation of existing roads and to start funding new projects. It's been a decade since the last gas tax increase passed the legislature. The Senate has been very cool to this, but the hope of supporters -- and those supporters include the business and labor communities -- is that there will be enough momentum to convince the Senate to do this. Still a question mark around this, but it is a top priority for the Governor and he's got a broad coalition standing with him.
Note: If the transportation revenue package passes the Senate intact, the first six cents of the gas tax hike would kick-in this August 1st. The remaining four and a half cents takes effect next summer.