Minding the Budget Gap

January 20, 2015

The legislature has been off and running since it was called into session last Monday. The House and Senate are in full swing, considering bills and debating the Governor’s budget proposals.

One of the bigger pieces of news from this first week was the passage of a Senate rule requiring a 2/3 majority vote for new taxes to be considered by the Senate. The state Supreme Court has ruled that the state Constitution requires only a simple majority vote for final passage of a tax; however, the Senate’s rule applies to the procedural motion needed just to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. An interesting nuance was debated on the floor about the word “new” because only a new tax, not the increase of an existing tax, would be subject to the new rule.

Regardless of functionality, the new rule is certainly a strong signal to the House and the Governor about how the Senate feels about any new taxes needed to close the budget gap.

And how big is the budget gap, exactly? It depends on who you ask. There are different interpretations of what the initial budget load of the McCleary decision and the classroom size initiative are, as well as other basic assumptions.

In December, the Governor stated it was a more than $2 billion gap and that new revenue is needed to meet obligations.

But Andy Hill (R-45), Chair of Senate Ways and Means, argues that “… the state has sufficient revenue to cover all existing costs, make the next required enhancement to McCleary, and increase the K-12 budget by the highest dollar amount in history.”

What’s At Stake for Hospitals? Already at stake in the budget debate are payments for Medicaid enrollees receiving care in hospital-based clinics (Read the issue brief here and some examples of the essential care hospital-based clinics provide. SEE ATTACHMENT) Adequate payment for hospital-based clinics helps ensure that Medicaid enrollees have access to hospital-based clinics—this is especially vital in the areas of primary care and specialty care such as pediatrics and cancer care.

2014 WHPAC Campaign a Huge Success!

Our 2014 PAC campaign was a terrific success, raising $192,000 – surpassing our goal of $170,000! This was the most our PAC has ever raised in a single year. These contributions, along with contributions in 2013 and contributions from Washington Hospital Services, allowed us to give more than $329,000 to state candidates and more than $86,000 to federal candidates in the 2014 elections.

With the importance of the elections, your contributions play a critical role in allowing us to support the campaigns for hospital and health care champions.  We truly appreciate all the PAC contributions received – large and small.

Additionally, we had 100% WSHA Board participation and more than half the hospital leadership teams reach their individual hospital/health system goal.  For a full list of the hospital leadership teams that met goal, please click here.

Thank you very much for your continued support of the PAC. It is a tremendous part of our advocacy program. It helps us support and elect champions for health care and hospital services in Olympia and Washington D.C. and unifies our political voice. WSHA looks forward to representing you in Olympia. Please continue to let us know how we can serve you. Cassie Sauer (cassies@wsha.org) and Lori Martinez (lorim@wsha.org)


WSHA strives to be a resource to members, policymakers and the public during the legislative session. Here are some of the formal and informal ways that we will keep in touch with you throughout the session.

Inside Olympiais delivered to subscribers on a weekly basis during the legislative session, though occasionally more often if issues are moving quickly. Our goal is to tell you what’s happening in the Legislature around key hospital issues, provide insight into the issues, and help your hospital respond.

  • Distributed to a public audience and posted online: https://www.wsha.org/insideOlympia.cfm
  • Usually distributed on Tuesday, but responsive to events
  • Often includes calls-to-action on specific legislation
  • Includes a list of bills that WSHA and AWPHD will be testifying on in the coming week

Issue Briefs are summaries of the key issues for hospitals. They are written for a legislative and public audience, and can serve as both an issue briefing paper and as talking points. Published online at https://www.wsha.org/policyadvocacy.cfm

Bulletinsare in-depth reports on important issues of state and federal public policy.

The WSHA websitehas resources for WSHA members and the public, including:

Webcastsare held throughout the session to discuss current legislative events.

  • Upcoming webcast dates are emailed directly and included in Inside Olympia and Weekly Report
  • Webcasts are recorded and posted at www.wsha.org/webcasts.cfm

We are also available by email or phone. For more information, contact Mary Kay Clunies-Ross (206/817-4845) or any other member of the Policy/Advocacy team.

WSHA Legislative Testimony: January 20-26

Much of this week in the legislature is dedicated to work sessions, giving background briefing to legislators about key issues.  WSHA is testifying on:

Tuesday, January 20

HB 1115- Capital budget. WSHA will be testifying in support of creating a pool of funds through the capital budget for renovation and building of new inpatient psychiatric units or facilities to add additional capacity to the mental health system.

Monday, January 26

SB 5175- Telemedicine. WSHA is again actively working and supporting this year’s telemedicine bill. The bill requires commercial and Medicaid health plans to reimburse providers for health care services delivered through audio and video technology. (Chelene Whiteaker, (206) 216-2545)


Contact Us

Washington State Hospital Association
999 Third Avenue
Suite 1400
Seattle, WA 98104

Map / Directions

206.281.7211 phone
206.283.6122 fax


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