Budget negotiations stalled over tax increases

Budget talks in Olympia have hit a snag, according to the Associated Press, as Senate fiscal leaders want the House to pass the tax bills required to fund the House’s higher level of appropriations. Reports indicate some dispute has to what transpired.

House Democrats said that during an afternoon meeting, they were given an ultimatum to pass tax bills related to their budget proposal before negotiations could move forward.

GOP budget writer, Sen. Andy Hill, however, said he offered to consider a smaller amount of revenue as a starting point for negotiations and only told Democrats they’d need to pass their revenue bills after they refused.

Hill has long maintained that “unbalanced budgets don’t count,” the title of one of his Windows into the Budget briefs. 

The budget goal should always be an on-time adjournment with a responsible and sustainable state operating budget.

To reach that goal, both chambers must release their spending plans in coming weeks by passing all of the bills necessary to implement that spending plan.

More from the Seattle Times.

Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, called the Republican demands “ridiculous,” accusing them of trying to force House members into “a gotcha vote” on taxes that may not even be part of the final budget.

Meanwhile some Democrats are floating another capital gains tax idea, hoping it may have broader appeal. Doubters appear to have the upper hand.

Negotiations will continue, but the prospects for an on-time adjournment may be dimming. 

The News Tribune editorial board believes the gap can be closed, but both sides will have to give a little. 

When the two parties wind up polarized on an issue, the best policy is often found somewhere in the middle. We think that’s the case with taxes. The state can get by without all the new money the Democrats’ want. But some items the Republicans left out of their plan suggest that they haven’t found a way to write a no-new-tax budget this year without hurting important state priorities.

Sometimes, intransigence is just an opening bid.