Reactions to Governor’s Proposed Education Budget, McCleary Fix, and New Taxes

In about an hour, the governor will unveil the rest of his proposed 2017-19 budget. The Seattle Times reports on what may be the emphasis in today’s announcement,

Inslee is expected to highlight what his budget will do for Washington’s mental health system, which has endured a wide array of troubles. 

While we’re waiting, let’s catch up on reactions to yesterday’s education budget proposal.

The Seattle Times reports

On Tuesday, Republicans began firing back almost immediately at the governor’s proposal. Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, called the governor’s plan “far, far and away the single biggest tax increase in state history.” 

 Inslee’s plan “looks more like another attempt to impose a new carbon tax and a new tax on income and less like a way to thoughtfully address the K-12 funding question,” Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center and a member of the state’s Education Funding Task Force, said in a statement. 

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said he was still reviewing Inslee’s proposal. Sullivan, also a member of the task force, which is wrestling with the McCleary question, said he appreciated that Inslee didn’t shy away from dealing with teacher pay. The governor, added Sullivan, “shares a lot of our values.”

The Times notes the plan wins the support of the new Superintendent of Public Instruction. Also noted is that the governor’s proposal would break new ground by making Washington the only non-income tax state to tax capital gains. (Washington would also, under the governor’s plan, be the only state to have a carbon tax.)

Inslee’s proposed tax rate would be higher than nearby Idaho’s 7.4 percent but lower than Oregon’s 9.9 percent and California’s 13.3 percent, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank that advocates for lower taxes. 

Those states, like others that tax capital gains, also have state income taxes. Washington is one of seven states that do not impose an income tax.

The Spokesman-Review also reports on the challenge the governor faces in the Senate.

Senate Republicans, who have the next shot at writing a state budget, were quick to denounce the tax increases. Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, likened it to the movie “Groundhog Day” because Inslee previously has proposed tax increases in his budget that don’t pass the Legislature.

,..“I don’t expect you’re going to see his package as part of our package,” said Schoesler, the Senate majority leader.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, also sits on the Ways and Means Committee where spending and tax decisions are made. He called the prospects for such a large tax increase “very slim” and predicted the final budget will look very different.

“I don’t know that there’s ever been a governor’s budget that’s been adopted,” Padden said. “It’s a starting point.”

The News Tribune also notes the familiar feel of the tax plans.

Most of the tax measures are ones Inslee has proposed before, but that have failed to move forward in a divided Legislature.

Inslee, a Democrat, said he knows the taxes in his budget would be “a heavy lift” for lawmakers when they return to Olympia in January, but “waiting will not make any of these decisions easier.”


Crosscut leads its report on the Inslee budget simply:

Gauntlet, thrown.

Fair enough. 

The Washington Research Council provides more context on the governor’s proposed tax changes.

Next up: The rest of the budget.