This month the Senate passed a bipartisan $33.3 billion operating budget that prioritizes education and protects Washington’s most vulnerable citizens—all without increasing taxes. The vote was 30 to 18. 7 of the Yes votes were from the minority caucus.
Keeping Faith With the Voters
The two-year operating budget includes $1.5 billion more for K-12 education and yet still closes the current budget gap with spending cuts and by employing lean management techniques that improve government efficiencies. The Senate’s budget proposal is balanced without tax increases or closing tax breaks on struggling businesses. It also encourages good faith in the government as it allows temporary tax increases from 2010 to expire on schedule on July 1st as promised.
Reducing Higher Education Costs
The budget also supports the “10-3-50” plan for higher education that I sponsored. The plan decreases tuition at state colleges and universities by 3 percent, adds 10 percent more funding to those institutions and also allocates a performance-based aid incentive.
A Bipartisan Budget
Senator Jim Hargrove (D-Hoqiuam), member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said the budget was created in “probably the most open and inclusive way that I think has ever built a budget.” He should know–Sen. Hargrove’s 28 years of service make him the longest-serving lawmaker in Olympia.
Although final budget negotiations between the Senate, House and Governor are far from over, the Senate’s budget takes Washington in the right direction. Under this plan, the budget would be balanced in a sustainable fashion and fosters a government that lives within its means.
House & Governor Budgets: a Sharp Contrast to the Senate’s
Unfortunately, the House Democrats’ budget and the governor’s budget priorities both raise taxes and extend those that the Legislature previously promised to sunset this year. The House budget has a total of $1.3 billion in new taxes. There also is evidence that the tax increases would eliminate 9,800 private sector jobs. The Senate’s budget spends $1.1 billion less than Governor Inslee’s $34.4 billion plan.
The new taxes target key job creators and industries such as agriculture and computer technology. Gov. Inslee’s plan would increase the B&O tax by about 25 percent on nearly all major industries and employers statewide. With our state’s economy still struggling, businesses, especially small businesses, cannot afford any increases in taxes or costly regulations.
A Time for New Solutions
That’s why I’m a firm believer in our Senate budget. It’s high time Legislators come up with solutions that fund education first and also create an environment in which business can thrive, which will inevitably result in more jobs and increased revenues for our state.
For a brief summary of my perspective on Gov. Inslee’s budget plan, click here to listen to a short interview.
The conversations are intensifying here in Olympia. Time and time again, the people of the 9th District have made their priorities clear—jobs, the economy and education. I’m pleased to see some real progress in the Senate to tackle those priorities and I’ll do my best to see it through.