Washington budget boosts funding for most environmental agencies

Washington environmental agencies are set to receive at least a modest budget boost the next two years despite earlier concerns that court-mandated education spending would require cuts to environmental priorities. Among the major environmental agencies, only the Puget Sound Partnership is set to lose operational dollars, largely due to a federal funding reduction, while several agencies will see substantial increases in operational funding to make up for past years’ cutbacks. Even Republicans are recommending increases — just smaller increases than Democrats — in the operating budget, which simply keeps the lights on and basic government functions running. For now, decisions about larger ambitions such as reining in Puget Sound’s largest pollution source and funding new transportation projects are taking a back seat. It remains to be seen whether the Legislature will pass a capital budget and a transportation budget.

Democrats resurrect $1.2 billion version of Inslee climate-pollution tax

With Supreme Court sanctions and a possible shutdown of state government looming, Democrats in the Legislature have resurrected Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and added a tax rebate to appease critics in their own party and the GOP. Taxing greenhouse-gas pollution could make a budget deal possible, Democratic leaders argue. But with a special legislative session ending Thursday and another almost certain, Republicans who control the Senate aren’t budging. GOP leaders say they still are figuring out how to reduce emissions of climate-warming pollution with a “carrots not sticks” plan that is more industry-friendly. Inslee’s plan to cut carbon emissions and tax Washington’s biggest polluters flopped early this session, with insufficient support even from his own party.