With the state Legislature nearing the end of a short 60-day session, Sen. John Braun today released a supplemental budget proposal, which addresses many of the concerns found in both Senate and House Democratic plans released earlier this week. Braun said his legislation would provide nearly $1 billion in property tax relief, cut tuition for community and technical college students and make historic investments in mental health treatment.
“After seeing stark contrasts in the Senate and House Democrat budget proposals, I decided to bring forward a plan that addresses the priorities of all Washingtonians,” said Braun who sponsored the original 2017-19 state operating budget lawmakers are now working to update. “Because of the bipartisan education funding plan passed last year, homeowners are seeing a one-year property tax increase before most of the state sees tax reductions next year. Because of a strong economy we can easily afford to provide significant tax relief now.”
Braun said his overall plan could bring Democrats from both the Senate and House closer together especially on how to address the state Supreme Court’s concern on the timing of education funding implementation. Braun will offer his budget as a striking amendment to the Senate Democrat budget, which is scheduled to be voted on Friday afternoon.
“We can and must do better for our special education students,” said Braun. “While we made significant progress last year, this was one of the main areas our broader education reform did not get completely right.”
Braun’s proposal would provide an additional $141 million for special education through June 30, 2021, almost twice the amount provided in the Senate Democratic plan.
“While most of our previous tuition cuts focused our larger schools where costs had increased the most, we want to ensure the 170,000 community and technical college students can afford their education,” said Braun, R-Centralia. “A ten percent tuition cut along with increased state funding for the schools, makes college accessible to more students of all ages.”
Braun’s budget does all this without raising taxes and maintains the state’s significant budget reserves. Braun said this was made possible due to the strong economy as the state’s chief economist projects an additional $2.3 billion in tax revenues over what was originally anticipated.
“Last year a broad bipartisan coalition voted to provide tax parity for Washington’s manufacturing sector, which has lost nearly 50,000 jobs since the turn of the century. Often these jobs are some of best paying in their community and are more accessible to people with a wide range of education and training experience,” said Braun. “While the governor vetoed a uniform and low tax rate for these companies, we have the opportunity to make a strong commitment to this sector that will help employees and employers grow and invest in their community.”
Lawmakers are on day 47 of the 60-day session, and are expected to vote on supplemental operating budgets in the Senate and House of Representatives today.