The Legislature and Social Services


When lawmakers return to Olympia this week to vote on a $23 billion biennial budget, the House, under Democratic control, will find the table has been set by the GOP-dominated Senate. "The Democrats got rolled by the Republicans every step of the way," complains the Service Employees International Union's David Rolf, who is fighting for increased wages, health insurance, and workers' compensation coverage for 26,000 home health care workers, who now make $7.68 an hour. The new budget contains only $14 million in new taxeson liquorwhile billions of dollars in planned increases for education, health care, and state workers' salaries have been eliminated. Senate Republicans, led by Ways and Means Chair Dino Rossi of Issaquah, argue that any general tax increase would damage an already faltering economy. Gov. Gary Locke, the state's leading Democrat, backed the GOP on this one. The combination of a bad economy, a determined executive, and a united Republican caucus proved too much for Democratic Speaker of the House Frank Chopp of Wallingford, who had floated tax packages as high as $650 million before agreeing to much less. It remains to be seen how the rest of the Democrats will react, and yet another challenge awaits lawmakers this week: Boeing and others in the business community want huge rollbacks in workers' compensation and unemployment-insurance benefits. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.


On June 22, Seattle's ever-moving homeless encampment, Tent City, will move from Shoreline to Temple Beth Am in the North End. It's the group's 29th move in three years. As many as 100 homeless people will camp out in the synagogue's parking lot until Aug. 3, whenyou guessed itthey will move again, this time to St. Mark's Cathedral in Capitol Hill. PHILIP DAWDY

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