Today the majority party in the House released its proposed 2013-15 operating budget. Among other things, the budget proposal:increasing taxes by $1.34 billion; spends $13 million less on higher education than the Senate budget and would permit tuition increases of 10 percent at UW/WSU and 6 percent at other 2 and 4-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 is spent and $337 million is left to comprise an unrestricted ending fund balance); and
raises state spending to an unsustainable level of $34.51 billion, which is a $3.3 billion increase from current appropriations and equates to a 10.4 percent increase from 2011-13. That is approximately $1.95 million more the $32.56 billion the state expects to bring in. It is also $75 million higher spending than Gov. Jay Inslee proposed and nearly $1.2 billion more than the bipartisan, no-new-taxes Senate budget approved last week.
“This budget was not put together in a bipartisan way – and it shows,” said House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis. “When the Senate rolled out its budget, there were members from both caucuses present, everyone had input and ownership, and the result was a bipartisan and balanced proposal. The House Democrats would have been wise to follow the Senate’s lead, put the partisan rhetoric aside, and produce a budget that members of both caucuses could support. We will continue to put solutions on the table and work toward this goal.”
That sentiment was echoed by Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom.
“I think we showed in the Senate what can be done when you put partisanship aside and work together for the betterment of the state,” said Tom, D-Bellevue. “With nearly two billion dollars more coming into the state, House Democrats should have reached out to Republicans and worked together to prioritize spending within existing revenue, rather than run to taxpayers with their hands out for more money.”
Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler also voiced concern for taxpayers. “The budget the Senate passed lives within our means,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “The House Democrat budget proposal raises one thousand dollars more in taxes from every Washington family; that’s way too much.
“This budget not only increases taxes on our employers, it also breaks a promise made to them that the temporary tax increases from three years ago would be just that – temporary. Citizens and employers should not have to bail out state government overspending with new taxes. Rather than go straight to raising taxes, lawmakers should be willing to prioritize and make difficult decisions. That’s what the public told us it wants us to do – it’s time that House Democrats put on their big-boy pants and listen.”
DeBolt echoed that sentiment.
“House Democrats propose spending more than any state budget to date, raising taxes almost as much as Governor Inslee, and leaving less in reserve than any budget,” said DeBolt. “Like the governor’s budget outline, their budget tells hardworking taxpayers that the two billion dollars more in expected state revenue – a 6.6 percent increase – is not enough. How can anyone say that a 6.6 percent increase is not enough for government at a time when our families, employers, college students and every taxpayer is still struggling to make ends meet?”
Tom added, “It’s time to do things differently. I sincerely hope that before the House passes its budget, Democratic leaders in that body will rethink their partisan approach and work with all members of that chamber to improve their flawed, irresponsible, government-first, taxpayers-last budget.”