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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
House Democrats released their operating budget proposal on Friday. They were originally going to hold a public hearing only two hours later. However, they agreed to wait until Monday after I wrote a letter to House Speaker Frank Chopp, which was signed by my Republican leadership team, asking him to give the public time to review and digest the document before holding a public hearing.
You can view the House Democratic operating budget spending plan here. It is contained within House Bill 1106, which was voted off the House floor yesterday on a party-line vote, 51-47, with Republicans voting no. On Tuesday, the House Finance Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 2224, the tax increase proposal. It has yet to pass from the Finance Committee, so the budget that passed yesterday based on these taxes is essentially not completely funded.
Senate Republicans (Majority Coalition Caucus) also released their operating budget proposal Monday. It seems to be a more responsible package that does not rely on tax increases, but prioritizes spending in the budget. They were debating their version overnight last night and into the early morning hours before calling it quits without a final vote. They're expected to take up their budget again later. We'll examine that spending plan more closely in this e-newsletter next week.
For this week, I have provided a quick “Question and Answer” session below to help you understand the House Democratic operating budget proposal. Also, I invite you to watch my Legislative Update video here for additional information of my views on this plan.
Please contact my office with your questions, comments and suggestions about the budget proposal or any other matters relating to legislation and state government. It is an honor to serve and represent you!
House Democratic Operating Budget Proposal
Questions and Answers
Q: House Democrats have released their two-year operating budget proposal. What does it look like?
A: Very succinctly, it looks like a lot of new tax increases and additional spending. The proposed operating budget would spend about $39 billion dollars over the next two years, starting in July. That's up considerably from the current operating budget of about $34 billion dollars. It is a $5 BILLION SPENDING INCREASE.
Excluding teacher compensation and the class-size initiative, the House Democrat budget would increase funding for K-12 education by about $628 million, which would address the state Supreme Court's requirements under the McCleary decision. It would also freeze tuition at Washington's colleges and universities. Plus, it would provide wage increases for teachers and state employees by three percent in the first year and 1.8 percent in the second year.
Q: What are your concerns about this budget proposal?
A: It would spend more money than the state is expected to take in and relies on significant tax increases to make up the difference. Washington is expected to take in an additional $3 billion without tax increases. That's nearly a nine percent increase in state revenue. There are not many people in the 39th District who have received a comparable pay increase in the last two years. Our citizens have to live within their means. However, nine percent is not enough for House Democrats. Their budget would increase spending by 15 percent.
I'm also very concerned that it eliminates the state spending limit, which has protected taxpayers for more than 20 years from unlimited government spending. To pay for all this new spending, House Democrats are proposing to raise taxes by more than $1.5 billion.
Q: What kind of tax increases are they proposing?
A: House Democrats are proposing a new 5 percent capital gains income tax on about 32,000 people. That's about the size of the entire populations of Darrington, Granite Falls, Monroe and Snohomish combined. If you add the families of those 32,000 people who would all be affected, then you are talking about thousands upon thousands of people. I am also very concerned this new tax would be a foot in the door to a much wider and broader state income tax.
Democrats are also proposing a 20 percent business and occupation tax increase on service businesses, which would hurt Main Street Mom and Pop businesses – many who are already struggling to remain open in this uncertain economy.
Here are several other job-creating tax incentives they want to eliminate:
Interestingly enough, we always hear Democrats talk about the evils of “tax loopholes” and how those tax incentives should be repealed. But did you know that since 2005, 120 of the 140 tax incentive bills that were signed into law were prime-sponsored by Democrats? And all of those tax incentive bills were signed into law by Democratic governors.
Q: So what happens from here?
A: Both the House Democrats and the Senate Republicans are expected to pass their operating budget proposals individually from each chamber. Eventually, these will be merged into one proposal that will be referred to a conference committee made up of “the four corners,” which are House and Senate Democrats and Senate and House Republicans. That's when budget negotiations begin. What is for certain is the budget as proposed by House Democrats will look entirely different from the final compromise budget that is passed by the House and Senate.
Q: Why and how should citizens get involved?
A: In Olympia, your silence means agreement. If your lawmakers hear nothing from you, they assume you agree with the policies, budgets and spending put forward. If you want government to grow by 15 percent and you want your taxes to go up more and more each year, then just sit back and watch and do nothing. But if you disagree, you need to speak up and let us know what you think of this budget plan and the proposed tax increases.
Please take a moment and answer my survey question on this very important issue. Go here to give your input:
This is YOUR money. You should have a voice in how it is spent and whether or not taxes are raised.
In your service,
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000