Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On May 13, the Washington State Legislature entered a special session after the 105-day regular legislative session ended without agreement on major budget-related issues.
Calling this overtime “special” implies that it is something we should look forward to, but the reality is it's a failure of the House majority party to make difficult decisions needed to get Washington back on sound financial footing.
I am very disappointed the Legislature could not finish its businesses within the time frame of the regular session. I had hoped the bipartisan work done on the Senate budget would carry over into negotiations with the House, but my optimism was misplaced.
Despite the fact that our state's economy is projected to generate $33 billion in tax revenue to the state over the next biennium (a sum which is approximately $2 billion more than the $31 billion in revenue that the state had to work with for the 2011-2013 biennium), it is unfortunate that my colleagues in the House Democrat Caucus seek to spend almost $34.5 billion, which is $1.5 billion more than our state will collect in tax revenue. Spending more than we take in is unsustainable and fiscally irresponsible. Moreover, it will lead to major tax increases because the House Democrat budget proposal relies on approximately $879 million in new and increased taxes in order to balance the books. Our state's taxpayers and small businesses cannot afford such a massive tax increase.
And it's important to note the proposal does two other things to put our state in a precarious position moving forward. First, House Democrats want to use every penny of the state's Rainy Day Fund in addition to raising a broad array of taxes. Second, the proposal leaves only a few hundred million dollars in the ending fund balance, which is barely enough to run state government for about six and a half days. This is irresponsible and will only set the stage for further tax increases next year.
In comparison, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus budget invested $1 billion more in our state's K-12 education without raising taxes. They understand what I hear from my constituents every day and what we heard loud and clear from the voters on Initiative 1185: taxpayers are already struggling and they cannot afford any new taxes.
In the coming weeks, I hope my colleagues in the House Democrat Caucus will begin to understand that we cannot continue to tax our way out of trouble. We must live within our means and budget responsibly.