Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We just voted on the House Democrats' budget proposal for the 2013-15 biennium. The budget passed on almost a party line vote, 54-43, with one Democrat voting against it. Now it moves on to negotiations with the Senate and the governor. Among other things, the budget proposal:
- increases taxes by $1.3 billion;
- spends $13 million less on higher education than the Senate budget, and permits tuition increases of 10 percent at UW/WSU and 6 percent at other two and four-year institutions;
- makes $757 million in one-time fund transfers, including tapping all of the state's rainy-day fund ($575 million, of which $238 million would be spent and $337 million would be left to comprise an unrestricted ending fund balance); and
- raises state spending to an unsustainable level of $34.5 billion, which is a $3.3 billion increase from current appropriations and equates to a 10.4 percent increase from the 2011-13 budget cycle. This is approximately $1.95 billion more that the $32.56 billion the state expects to bring in.
My concerns with this budget are similar to those I had with Gov. Inslee's proposal. It relies on tax increases at a time when our employers and families cannot afford to pay more taxes. The federal government is already asking us to pay more, and that could increase in the very near future. Our state is already expecting to collect approximately $2 billion more in tax revenue for the upcoming biennium. That is a 6.6 percent increase in revenue. There is no need to raise taxes.
Meanwhile, the Senate's version of the budget was a bipartisan spending plan, passing the Senate with a vote of 30-18. It is a sustainable and prioritized budget that does not rely on new taxes. We should follow the example of the Senate and work together if we are going to find a budget with enough votes from both chambers.
The House did introduce a bipartisan capital budget this week. It is a work in progress. The capital budget considers appropriations for construction and repair of public buildings, land and water conservation, local governments, housing, public works, and authorization of the state debt. Of significance to our community, the House capital budget includes $1.5 million to reduce flooding in Clark's Creek while improving downstream water quality and improving the treatment of surface runoff prior to the Puyallup River.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000