It is day 26 of the 30-day special session. We are running out of time to reach a budget agreement before the Tuesday deadline.
The majority party in the House has offered a new budget proposal, and while they made significant progress toward compromise with the Senate, I voted against the budget Thursday evening. The budget passed the House by a vote of 53-35 with all Republicans and one Democrat voting against it. One of my main concerns is that the budget reduces spending on K-12 education by approximately $500 million. Out of all the budgets proposed so far, this one spends the least on education, even while assuming $415 million in tax increases.
Fortunately, the House majority has backed off from permanently extending the Business and Occupation (B&O) surtax on service businesses, but much of their tax plan remains intact. You can find more details by clicking: Washington House Democrats’ new tax-increase plan. Raising taxes is the wrong way to fund our operating budget. There are still more than 57,000 people out of work since the start of the recession five years ago. Economic recovery is the key to growing state revenues.
I am also concerned about an education apportionment shift that could impact school funding and they sweep all the funds out of the Public Works Trust Fund from the capital budget. This fund is used by cities and counties for infrastructure needs. There are about $600 million in fund shifts which makes we question the sustainability of a budget that is moving that much money around.
That said, budget negotiations continue and we are getting closer to an agreement. The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus is expected to work over the weekend on the proposed budget and other bills considered necessary to implement the budget. I am hopeful that we can finish our work on Tuesday. In the meantime, feel free to send your thoughts on the budget.
State Representative Hans Zeiger
25th Legislative District
Olympia Office (January-April)
468 John L. O’Brien Building – P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000