Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With the cherry trees on the Capitol Campus in full bloom, we are entering the last few weeks of the 2019 session. Our next legislative deadline is Opposite House cutoff on April 17. With the exception of budget matters, initiatives
With more than $2.8 billion in surplus revenue, our state's financial outlook is the best it's been since the Great Recession. Bottom line, our revenue is ample enough to supply funding for all our state's priorities. Unfortunately, both the Democrat-sponsored House and Senate budget proposals commit every new revenue dollar and include significant tax increases. With economists predicting an economic downturn in the coming years, this may lead to the same painful budget cuts the state faced with the onset of the recession in 2007-08.
Now that the Democratic-controlled House and Senate have approved their respective spending plans, any differences in the plans must be reconciled. Lawmaker's representing both chambers will be meeting over the next few weeks to negotiate a final spending plan that will be submitted to the full Legislature.
Here are some of the key differences and similarities in these dueling budgets:
- The Senate plan spends about $52 billion in 2019-21, which is about $1 billion less than the House's proposal.
- The Senate includes $1.1 billion in new taxes as compared to the House's plan of $4.4 billion, over the next four years.
- The Senate plan leaves an ending fund balance of about $564 million compared to the House's $128 million.
- The House proposal spends nearly twice as much on K-12 special education, including increased access to safety net funding.
- The House plan depends primarily on an income tax on capital gains earnings, adjustments to the real estate excise tax (REET), and increases to certain business and occupation (B&O) taxes.
- The Senate's version uses revenues gained from the tax to changes to the real estate excise tax (REET). However, a separate bill, Senate Bill 5961, would impose an 8.9 percent income tax on capital gains.
Would you like to learn more about the budget process?
Here are some resources to help:
- A Citizens Guide to the Washington State Budget (2019)
- Washington State's Revenue Forecast
- Democrat-sponsored House and Senate 2019-21 biennium operating budget proposals
Help for small, rural school districts
During the 2018 McCleary negotiations, a “hold harmless provision” was added to the final K-12 education funding reforms. The provision basically promised school districts their monies would not be reduced because of the changes. In order to keep that promise, House Republicans hung an amendment on the recent House budget proposal giving one-time funding to districts who received less this year as compared to 2017-18. This will help several small, mostly rural school districts across our state.
Other improvements Republicans made to the House budget proposal include:
- Increasing transportation funding for homeless youth and foster children so they can stay in their school district.
- Increasing Medicaid fraud enforcement, which could save $240 million.
- Providing for more local drug and gang policing in response to the opioid epidemic.
- Funding programs to reduce veteran suicides.
If you have any questions or concerns about the legislative budget process, please feel free to give me a call at (360) 786-7816 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm always glad to help!
Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Olympia.