The supplemental operating budget approved today by the Washington State Legislature did so without support from Sen. John Braun, who cited the lack of fiscal responsibility and meager property tax relief as primary reasons. The spending plan passed with the lowest amount of support of any operating budget since 2009.
“We began this session with a tremendous opportunity to address challenges and opportunities in education, job creation, mental health and for taxpayers. Unfortunately what passed today misses the mark on most counts,” said Braun, who sponsored the original 2017-19 operating budget and serves as the ranking minority member on the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “Our alternative budget demonstrated we could very easily provide $1 billion in property tax relief this year given the additional $2.3 billion the state is expected to collect. We could do that and still cut tuition, protect and enhance investments in education and make meaningful improvements for our most vulnerable citizens without raiding our reserves.”
In divided government the final budget would generally end up as a compromise between the two original proposals. However, the final budget passed today actually spends more money than either of the original Democrat proposals in the Senate and House of Representatives.
“Pent up demand from Democrat special interests following five years of Republican leadership in the Senate burst open the floodgates for new spending,” said Braun, R-Centralia. “During that time we had an inclusive and open budget development process. We knew the end result would always be better by having a variety of perspectives involved. While it is the right of the majority, the problems found in this budget are what happens when representatives of nearly half the state are shut out.”
Braun sponsored a budget that would have provided $972 million in property tax relief in 2018 using growing state revenues. Democrats raid of the rainy day fund draws down reserves needed in case of an economic recession or to deal with the results of a major floor, earthquake or other natural disaster.
Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn today at the end of a 60-day session.