Baumgartner bill to gauge state’s dependence on federal funds clears Senate

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-6Sen. Michael Baumgartner’s bill to help prepare the state government for a reduction in federal funding cleared the Senate Friday. Senate Bill 5804 would require agencies receiving federal dollars to provide an inventory of how the money is used and create contingency plans for possible reductions.

“I’m really glad that my Senate colleagues see how important it is that we understand exactly how federal dollars impact our budget,” the Spokane Republican said. “The federal debt is more than 16.5 trillion dollars and the federal government will have to deal with that one day. We need to be prepared.”

Nearly 25 percent of the state operating budget is made up of federal funding, according to Baumgartner, who is vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. He warned that the state is becoming dangerously dependent on federal matching funds.

Baumgartner noted that state budget analysts are still trying to figure out exactly how much federal “sequestration” cuts will affect the state budget.

“They’ve calculated about 83 million dollars in funding cuts so far. That doesn’t even take into account possible cuts to outside revenue,” Baumgartner said. “The affected agencies are going to be blindsided by these cuts, and had this kind of bill been in place prior to sequestration, that wouldn’t have been the case.”

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.