Shorty after Senate Republicans released their budget proposals, their GOP counterparts in the House offered their own budget plans. Both proposals allow Washingtonians to see what can be done this budget cycle without raising taxes. Quite a bit, it would appear. As we’ve pointed out, the combination of ample budget reserves, a recovering state economy, and federal assistance has averted the budget crisis many saw coming a year ago. The budget outlook, as the Washington Research Council points out, is good.
Rather than get into the details of the budget plans, we’ll direct you to some WRC analyses comparing the Senate GOP budget to the governor’s proposal and the Council’s initial review of the House GOP plan. You don’t have to be a long-time Olympia observer to realize that the minority party usually takes the back seat in budget deliberations. This year, however, it’s encouraging to see Republicans offering their own suggestions early in the process. A bipartisan approach to the state’s operating budget would be welcome, as businesses and households continue to suffer the effects of the prolonged COVID recession.
In the Everett Herald, Jerry Cornfield writes,
Rep. Drew Stokesbary of Auburn, lead writer of the House offering, said it contained no new taxes and no cuts to critical services. It is a deep dive. Among its interesting pieces are funding for a working families tax credit, money for schools to resume in-person learning, a sales tax exemption for diapers, a merging of state pension plans and several billion dollars in reduced agency spending.
Stokesbary said it is intended to be more than a conversation starter, noting he came to Olympia “to make better laws, not just better suggestions.”
Reporting for the NW News Network, Austin Jenkins writes,
“The people of our state need to know it’s possible, even during a pandemic, to have a budget that doesn’t cut services and without more taxes,” said state Sen. Lynda Wilson, the ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
The Senate proposal, released last week, and the House proposal released Tuesday would both spend about $55 billion over the next two years – roughly $3 billion less than the spending plan Gov. Jay Inslee proposed in December. Nonetheless, that still represents an increase in spending over the current biennial budget which is on track to spend about $52 billion.
“It continues to grow the budget, but on a much more responsible glide path,” said state Rep. Drew Stokesbary, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.