OLYMPIA March 31, 2015
A no-new-tax Senate budget proposal offers the right way to address the state’s most fundamental needs, said state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch – fully funding K-12 education, cutting tuition and offering a flat-rate cost-of-living increase that boosts the state’s lowest-paid workers.
The Senate’s $38 billion budget proposal is a stark contrast to the spending plan issued by majority Democrats in the state House last week. The $39 billion House plan requires $1.5 billion in new taxes.
“I’ve said all along that we ought to be able to make do with what we have,” Sheldon said. “This proves we can do it.
“This is really a budget that puts the citizens first. By avoiding new taxes, it helps our economy recover, not just in King County but the rest of the state. Outside the state’s urban areas we haven’t shared in the boom times, and we just aren’t ready for a major tax increase.
“We found a way to provide a cost-of-living increase for public employees that directs money where it is most needed, into the pockets of the state’s lowest-paid workers. And we provide an average 25 percent cut in college and university tuition – really a middle-class tax cut. All the way around, this is a proposal we can be proud of.”
The Senate budget proposal:
- Directs most new spending toward education, by a three-to-one margin.
- Increases K-12’s share of the budget to 47 percent, a level not seen in the last 30 years.
- Provides $1.3 billion for basic education to satisfy the Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling.
- Cuts college tuition an average 25 percent by the end of the biennium.
- Invests more than $70 million in state programs for the mentally ill, and avoids cuts to programs for the developmentally disabled.
- Provides a flat $2,000 annual cost-of-living increase for state employees – meaning 25,000 state workers will see a larger increase than under agreements bargained between the governor’s office and public employee unions.
- Leaves the largest reserve in state history, $500 million in the general fund and $900 million in the rainy day fund.