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Bailey-Boushay funding safe - for now
Bailey-Boushay funding safe - for now
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

With funding for its outpatient program included in both the state Senate and House budget proposals, Bailey-Boushay House appears to be safe, at least for now. Final approval of the state's budget may be weeks away, however, and Bailey-Boushay management remains cautious.

House Ways and Means Committee chair Kelli Linville (D-42), who reported her committee's version of the budget out on Tuesday, told SGN, "We exempted [Bailey-Boushay] from cuts. Their funding is intact."

"We haven't voted on anything yet," she cautioned, "but it was not controversial. There was no discussion of cutting that item at all."

"The process is not done yet, it's not final," said Virginia Mason Media Relations Manager Alicia Mark. "Until the final budget is signed, we're just watching and waiting." Although Bailey-Boushay House is independently funded, Virginia Mason Hospital manages the institution, and contributes about $500,000 in cash and in-kind services every year.

Bailey- Boushay offers both inpatient nursing home and outpatient programs. It is the outpatient program which has been at risk, since it is funded largely with state money. $1.1 million of the outpatient program's total $1.8 million budget comes from state funds.

Bailey-Boushay management worried that loss of funding for their outpatient services might jeopardize the whole operation.

"Our funding is like a house of cards," Bailey-Boushay Executive Director Brian Knowles told SGN last week. "If the funding for outpatient services goes, even if we retain our nursing home funding, how do we support this building? We can shoulder nursing home cuts, but there's no way we can shoulder outpatient cuts."

State legislators are wrestling with an unprecedented fiscal crisis, in which the projected state budget shortfall ballooned from $6 billion when Gov. Gregoire announced her budget proposal in December to $9 billion today. Both the Senate and the House budget proposals included deep cuts in almost all areas of state spending.

"I've been involved in appropriations for 17 years," Rep. Linville told SGN, "and we've never faced budget challenges like this. And this is the year I chair the committee! It's been trial by fire."

The last scheduled day of the legislative session is April 26. Both the Senate and the House will pass their own versions of the budget, and then negotiate a final version before the legislature adjourns. If the legislature fails to complete its work by April 26, it may go into special session.

According to Linville, there will be no surprises in the final budget. "The only surprise will be if we don't get out of here on time," she says. "We're eliminating per diems as extra incentive for people to grasp the seriousness of this and get in gear."

The Senate has also cut per diem pay for its members. The Senate pays its members $90 per day and the House pays $100 per day while the legislature is in session.

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