Democrats’ budget relies on largest tax increase in state history to continue failed budget policies
In what Republican Reps. Joel Kretz and Shelly Short called an “unconscionable move,” majority Democrats in the Legislature passed a state supplemental operating budget that assumes nearly $1 billion in new and higher taxes this year alone. The budget would increase taxes by almost $2 billion in the two-year 2011-13 budget.
Democrats hold a 61 to 37 seat majority in the House and a 31 to 18 seat majority in the Senate, along with the governor’s office. They are the sole party in charge of budget writing and, so far, Republicans have been wholly left out of all budget negotiations.
“Democrats are running up the tab in Olympia and sending the bill to taxpayers. Instead of accepting House Republican budget solutions that lift up families and employers, Democrats are forcing more taxes on citizens when they can least afford it,” said Kretz, R-Wauconda. “House Republicans believe small businesses, personal responsibility, lower taxes, smaller government and less government spending are the keys to turning Washington state’s economy around. We have offered viable alternatives to tax increases, but it is clear Democrats are tied to their failed budget tactics.”
House Republicans believe the best way to close the spending gap is to offset it by resizing state government and encouraging private-sector job growth. They offered more than $750 million in government efficiencies and reforms to the Democrat chair of the House Ways and Means Committee more than three weeks ago. None of the belt-tightening ideas were accepted.
“This is a ‘no new ideas’ budget. The majority party doesn’t want any new or innovative solutions that truly reform government and create private-sector jobs. They are sticking to the same disastrous plan of overspending, relying on federal bailout money and holding taxpayers hostage to their tax-and-spend policies. The only folks who make out well in the budget are their special interest friends,” said Short, R-Addy. “This policy of failure is hurting taxpayers and creating bigger deficits into the future. The spending is unsustainable. We simply cannot tax our way to prosperity.”
As passed, the Democrats’ budget assumes the following to balance the $2.7 billion spending gap:
- $857 million in tax increases;
- $641 million in additional one-time federal bailout money (which is dependent on federal legislation that has not passed);
- $236 million in one-time fund transfers from the capital budget and other dedicated accounts;
- $314 million raid of the state “rainy day” account;
- $650 million in spending reductions.
Total state spending under the plan would be more than $30.5 billion, which represents an increase of more than $200 million this year. Revenues are estimated to be $29.3 billion.
The concern among Republicans is short-sighted Democrat legislators are willing to gamble away the opportunity to reform and resize state government in order to pay off special interest groups, including state union members who are supporting tax hikes so many of them receive pay raises.
The Republican lawmakers explained the tone-deafness on the other side of the aisle as a “massive difference in philosophy” between Republicans and Democrats.
“They do not want to hear their policies are taking the state in the wrong direction. Many folks in the private sector have agreed to pay cuts to save their jobs or have lost their jobs due to the difficult economy,” Kretz said. “Government should take that example and apply it to state programs and wages.”
“The state is at a crossroads – either we commit to restructuring spending and the size of government, or we allow the Democrats to commit us all to funding a bloated government that can never have enough of our hard-earned money,” Short concluded.
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