WRC: Governor’s “Book 1” budget shows what he’d do without his proposed $3.7 billion tax increase for coming biennium

With little fanfare, Gov. Inslee released his “Book 1” budget proposal, the one without the $3.7 billion tax increase he proposed last month. The Washington Research Council explains,

Under state law, the governor must submit a budget proposal that balances within existing revenues. This is called the current law or “book 1” budget. Governors may also submit an alternative, or “book 2,” budget proposal that uses new revenues.

Gov. Inslee proposed a book 2 budget that would increase 2019–21 spending from funds subject to the outlook by $9.973 billion over 2017–19.

If the governor’s initial budget sets the high-water mark for 2019-2021 – and it does – the no-new-taxes alternative is even more likely to find few champions. Nonetheless, it charts a possible course.

Writing for the WRC, Emily Makings points out,

All told, the governor’s book 1 proposal shows a way to balance the 2019–21 budget without increasing taxes, while still fully funding changes related to the McCleary decision. His preferred budget would increase taxes in order to fund many more new policies. Legislators will surely have a different mix of priorities. As we have recommended, a cautious approach to spending would be a good idea.

We agree. Caution is in order. See the WRC post for a comparison of the Book 1 and Book 2 spending priorities.