Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Both the House Democrats and the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (Republicans) have passed competing operating budgets out of their respective chambers.
Below is a brief side-by-side comparison of both budget proposals. I think there are things to like and dislike in both proposals. I like the fact that both proposals add millions of dollars to K-12 education, which should satisfy the state Supreme Court “McCleary Decision” requirements. Both the House and Senate recognize what a tremendous burden the high cost of tuition is on students in our colleges and universities, so they attempt to address those concerns in these proposals.
I am very concerned, however, that House Democrats have passed their budget proposal, which is based on raising taxes by more than $1.5 billion. Their “revenue” (tax increase) package would include, among other items: a new capital gains income tax; an increase of business and occupation taxes on service businesses, which could impact our small Main Street Mom and Pop businesses; and extending the sales tax to bottled water, which voters rejected a few years ago. Interestingly enough, the Democrats have not brought up their tax increase bill for a vote in the House Finance Committee. Yet, they've passed a budget that relies on that bill.
The Senate proposal does not rely on tax increases. They recognize what I've been saying all along — that the state is already getting a record pay raise — more than $3 billion in additional tax collections because of a better economy. That's a 9 percent raise — a lot more than most people have seen in their paychecks. We don't need a tax increase! But House Democrats want spending to be increased by 15 percent! And that brings me back to what I frequently say: Washington doesn't have a revenue problem — it has a SPENDING problem!
Last week, I asked recipients of this email update to answer this question:
Do you support House Democrats' tax increase proposal? Here are the results:
- No, the state should live within its means: 84.51%
- Yes, the state needs more revenue to provide more services: 12.68%
- Not sure, need more information: 2.82%
The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn its regular session on April 26. Between now and that date, lawmakers from both chambers will need to get together to hammer out a compromise two-year budget, which will likely look much different from the two budgets presented here. We owe it to you, the taxpayers, to have this task finished and to be done on time by the end of the 105-day regular session.
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!
| A tale of two budgets
A brief comparison of the House and Senate budget proposals
|Senate Majority Coalition Caucus Operating Budget|
|Taxes||Relies on $1.5 billion in new taxes and tax increases including: a new capital gains income tax, an increase in the B&O tax for service businesses, and extension of the sales tax to bottled water and to Internet purchases||No new taxes. Allows 15 exemptions to expire. Budget would make state live within existing revenues (which includes a $3 billion increase in revenues without tax hikes.)|
|Spending||Would spend $38.9 billion — up from current $33.8 billion budget – a 15 percent increase||Would spend $37.8 billion|
|K-12 education||$740 million for maintenance, supplies and operations||$741 million for maintenance, supplies and operations|
|All-day kindergarten||$180 million||$184 million|
|Higher education tuition||Would freeze tuition rates||Would decrease existing tuition prices by 25 percent|
|State employee compensation||Three percent increase in 2016 and 1.8 percent increase in 2017||$2,000 raise for all state employees. Up to 25,000 of the state's lowest-paid workers would receive higher wages than the negotiated collective bargaining agreement|
|Eliminates the state spending limit?||Yes||No|
|Savings held for emergencies||Only $4 million would remain in the state's ending fund balance for 2017-19||$500 million left in the bank, plus $900 million for state's rainy day fund|
|I-1351 class-size funding||Includes only full-day kindergarten and class-size reductions already called for under McCleary decision. Voters will not get to decide||Would pay for class-size reductions for kindergarten through third grade. Would send the proposed change back to voters to decide in November|
In your service,