OLYMPIA… A Senate budget proposal offers the solution to the state’s budget troubles, says Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, fully funding K-12 education, cutting tuition and avoiding tax increases.
“We’d call this a great budget proposal even if we didn’t have something to compare it against,” Ericksen said. “But when you put it up against the proposal released by the House Democrats last Friday, the difference is dramatic.
“This budget accomplishes everything we need to do – it funds K-12 education, blocks efforts to tax Whatcom County’s oil refineries out of business, and extends a tax break that will help assure a future for the Alcoa smelter. It cuts tuition an average 25 percent, essentially giving a tax break to the middle class. And we do it without raising taxes.
“People said we’d never pull it off. With this budget, we’ve shown it can be done.”
The Senate budget plan makes the most of the $3 billion in additional tax revenue the state will receive over the next two years. The $38 billion proposal for 2015-17:
- Puts the emphasis on 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.
- Leaves the largest reserve in state history, $500 million in the general fund and $900 million in the rainy day fund.
A proposal released last Friday by the majority Democrats in the state House expands state spending by roughly $1 billion more. The House budget requires tax increases totaling $1.5 billion.