House Democrats release biennial budget with $3 billion in new revenue; swift action expected this week

It’s early hours for the House Democrats’ budget plan. Their fiscal leadership finished their press conference just a short time ago. We expect a lot more discussion and instant analysis in the next few days. The goal, it appears, is to pass something this week and move into negotiations with the Senate plan. Comparing the two proposals, House Appropriations Chair Timm Ormbsby likened to comparing apples and zucchinis. 

So we’ll not attempt the A-to-Z look here. Suffice it to say a $3 billion revenue package will buy a lot of differences. We will, however, link you to some early reports and legislative documents.

The Seattle Times report leads with the taxes. 

The Democratic proposal, a $44.6 billion 2017-19 state operating budget, would raise about $3 billion in new taxes. It would institute a 7 percent tax on capital-gains earnings above $25,000 for single filers and $50,000 for joint filers.

That would affect about 48,000 tax returns, according to Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, chair of the House Finance Committee.

It would also raise rates for the state’s business-and-occupation tax — but exempt businesses with less than $250,000 gross revenue from paying anything. The proposal also seeks to raise revenue by rolling back a handful of tax exemptions.

The Associated Press story also fronts the new revenues, with an important caveat.

House Democrats on Monday released a two-year budget plan that proposes $3 billion in additional revenue — including a tax increase on some businesses and a new capital gains tax — to address a court mandate on education funding.

However, Democrats said while they plan to pass their spending plan on the House floor Friday, they won’t likely take a vote in that chamber on any of the tax bills that pay for it before completing negotiations with Senate Republicans, who passed their own budget plan last week.

So apparently the House will again be passing a spending plan that does not balance. As the Times story notes, that’s a recurring point of contention with the Senate.

Republicans have been resistant to most ideas for new revenue, and have called on Democrats to take votes in the state House on their proposed taxes before budget and McCleary negotiations can begin in earnest.

The negotiations, then, appear to begin with a process impasse.

For more on the spending plan, here’s the House-Senate side-by-side at, the House appropriation chair’s bill summary, and the balance sheet with the $2.995 billion revenue plug.