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Originally published Friday, February 17, 2012 at 8:50 PM

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House Republicans propose state budget eliminating Basic Health Plan

The state House Republicans on Friday released their proposal for a supplemental budget.

The Associated Press

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OLYMPIA — House Republicans on Friday released a supplemental budget proposal that makes nearly $840 million in cuts to state programs and doesn't include a sales-tax increase for voters to consider, as suggested by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Majority Democrats, who ultimately decide what the budget will look like, are expected to unveil their plan next week.

The Republican plan includes the elimination of the Basic Health Plan, which provides health insurance for the poor, and Disability Lifeline, a welfare and health-care program for unemployable adults who aren't covered by federal Social Security benefits. Democrats in the House oppose those cuts.

In total, about $230 million would be saved by eliminating 51 programs.

House Republicans also called for the elimination of three tax exemptions that would save nearly $36 million, including a tax break that out-of-state banks are able to claim on first mortgages. Under the Republican plan, nearly $651 million would be left in reserves.

Gregoire, in her budget proposal in November, suggested sending voters a temporary sales-tax increase in order to "buy back" cuts made to areas such as education and public safety.

"I'd like to show everyone it can be done without a tax increase," said Rep. Gary Alexander of Olympia, the Republican lead on the budget in the House.

Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said that while "there were some good ideas" in the budget, the overall proposal would not fare well in the House.

"What you're seeing there is a political statement because he does not have the votes to pass that budget," said Hunter, the key budget writer for the Democrats.

Republicans say their plan prioritizes funding for basic education, and maintains money for the most vulnerable populations including the disabled, elderly and children. Alexander also said that there would be no early release or reduction in community supervision of criminals.

"It is a budget that is based on priorities," he said.

The GOP plan reduces the amount of money in monthly grants that are given to people through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The grant averages $373 per month and would be reduced to $354 under the Republican proposal. The time limit for recipients of the grants would also be reduced from 60 months to 48 months.

Associated Press reporter

Jonathan Kaminsky

contributed to this report.

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