The Senate Chair’s proposed budget includes the following policy related spending changes:
$1.2 billion in net increased policy adds including fully funding the K-12 salary increases as required by the State Supreme Court November order and funding the McCleary court penalties (other major increases include $160 million is in Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities/Long Term Care);
$403 million from the Budget Stabilization Account for a $0.31 state property tax reduction in calendar year 2019; and
$22 million from the Budget Stabilization Account for fire related costs.
The projected ending fund balance at the end of 2017-19 is $922 million and $2.4 billion in total reserves.
The proposal satisfies the four-year balanced budget requirement, according to the chair.
The Chair’s budget proposal, under the provisions of the four-year budget outlook (Chapter 8, Laws of 2012), is projected to end the 2019-21 biennium with $82 million in NGF-P ending fund balance and $1.9 billion in total reserves.
The proposal does not rely on new taxes. From the web page of the Senate Democrats:
“This budget represents a responsible and thoughtful approach in spending our state’s resources,” said Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and chief budget writer. “We have seen substantial gains in our economy, but we also recognize the growing needs of Washington’s 7.5 million residents. I’m proud this budget makes targeted investments without any new taxes. It’s a document based on a vision of healthy families, safer communities and an economy that works for everyone across the state.”
Washington Senate Democrats want to use soaring tax revenues to address both the state Supreme Court’s K-12 school-funding order and the added burden on homeowners facing higher property-tax bills to fund schools.
Senate Democrats on Monday released a supplemental operating budget proposal that adds approximately $970 million for school-worker salaries and is intended to satisfy the court’s McCleary decision.
Timing makes property tax reductions difficult, so the tax relief comes next year.
Rolfes said it’s difficult to lower taxes this year, since bills are already calculated and being mailed out.
The new Democratic budget proposal would spend $403 million in budget reserves to make a one-time, 31-cent cut to the state property tax rate for the 2019 calendar year.
The House is expected to release its budget next week.