OLYMPIA…The state Legislature’s Republican budget leaders today offered these statements following the signing of the supplemental state operating budget for 2019-21, which included nearly 150 line-item vetoes.
From Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, budget leader for the Senate Republican Caucus:
“I appreciate the governor’s efforts to reduce spending. Knowing how the stay-at-home order is going to mean a big hit to state revenues, it makes sense to lower the cost of state government as much as possible, as soon as possible. Decreasing or eliminating an appropriation through a veto now is simpler than waiting until after this budget goes into effect; then the very same reductions are viewed as cuts to existing services, which are harder to accomplish politically.
“A case could have been made for vetoing every bit of new spending that doesn’t support the state’s COVID-19 response. That would save more than 700 million dollars in the current budget – money that could be redeployed toward public-health or economic-recovery measures down the way, or saved to lessen the budget deficit we will likely face in 2021.
“I had encouraged the governor to pump the brake harder on new spending; I continue to encourage him to start releasing the brake on the economy by looking for places where we can safely get people back to work.”
From Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, budget leader for the House Republican Caucus:
“I commend the governor for his decision today to veto $445 million in new spending from the 2020 supplemental budget. Many of the vetoed items were good ideas that enjoyed popular support. His decisions were not easy, but in light of the severe impact to state tax revenues we are experiencing, his course of action was the right one.
“With that said, I had hoped the governor would issue additional vetoes for other new spending that is not necessary for the state’s COVID-19 response and was not part of his initial budget request. But I do appreciate the governor’s willingness to take the difficult, but necessary, steps that he did.
“I now encourage the governor to work with state agencies to begin reducing current spending across state government. Washington did not seek out this fight. I am confident it is a fight that we can and will win together, but winning will require that we cut back on unnecessary spending now to ensure the state has adequate fiscal resources to continue providing critical services to those who depend on them.”