Following the release of the governor’s proposed two-year operating budget today, Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, questioned the impacts and need for what would be the largest tax and spending increase in state history.
“While I’m pleased to see the governor shares our goal of a world-class education system, it’s disappointing to see his only plan to achieve it means an 8-billion-dollar tax increase and completely lacks meaningful reforms,” said Braun, who now serves as the Senate’s chief budget writer and chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “A 67-percent tax increase on employers, a new energy tax unpopular with voters and a highly volatile capital-gains income tax would hurt job growth and fail to provide the stable and dependable revenues our public schools need.”
Inslee’s plan calls for more than $5 billion in new taxes during the 2017-19 budget cycle, which is structured to balloon to more than $8 billion for future two-year budgets.
The governor’s plan would mean a massive 21-percent increase in state spending over the 2015-17 budget, which runs through next June, and a 39-percent increase from four years ago. If implemented the state would see a 50-percent spending increase during the Inslee administration.
The budget proposal also funds new collective-bargaining agreements, including $700 million in state-employee pay raises, which the governor’s budget office determined to be financially feasible despite needing massive new tax increases to implement them.
If adopted the governor’s plan also would not comply with the four-year balanced-budget requirement in state law, a policy which Braun called “an incredibly important tool to provide budget sustainability.
“While it’s disappointing, it’s by no means surprising as the governor has failed to introduce a balanced budget for five consecutive years now,” Braun said.
“Even with historic tax increases the governor still couldn’t find a way to cut college tuition, reduce the cost to access state parks, expand Meals on Wheels programs for low-income seniors or offer more respite care for families of people with developmental disabilities.
“In the upcoming months lawmakers will continue building on what we’ve done the past four years,” Braun added, “which means working together in a bipartisan manner to craft a budget that make historic investments in public education and protects our economy.”
The 2017 legislative session will begin Jan. 9 when lawmakers return to Olympia for a 105-day session.