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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2015 regular session ended today, and the governor is calling the Legislature back for a special session on Wednesday, April 29. This session, we were given 105 days to craft a sustainable state budget that continues funding our critical state programs, improves transportation infrastructure, and addresses recent state Supreme Court rulings regarding K-12 education and mental health facility requirements.
It's frustrating to me that negotiators could not come to an agreement within these 105 days, especially given the state will be receiving $3 billion in additional revenue for the 2015-17 budget. When I hear from constituents back home, they tell me when legislators come to Olympia, they expect political differences to be put aside, and for politicians to come to an agreement within the allotted time. I was also hopeful that would be the case.
This special session can last up to 30 days, but it's not necessary to take all 30 days.
As this special session plays out, please feel free to contact me with questions or suggestions you may have. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me to be involved in your state government.
Current budget proposals
Majority parties in the House and Senate released dueling operating budget plans in late March. Here is a brief comparison of the two:
Both budgets make some good progress by beefing up the state's contribution to K-12 education. These budgets also recognize the financial burdens currently carried by our college students.
There are two major differences. The House Democrat budget calls for $1.5 billion in new taxes by creating a 5 percent capital gains tax, increasing the B&O tax rate, and eliminating seven tax exemptions. The Senate Republican budget, on the other hand, would not require tax increases. The House plan also calls for a $5.2 billion increase in spending, whereas the Senate plan increases state spending by $4.1 billion.
In many ways, these proposals are still far apart. But I think both parties realize these budgets are not perfect, and a lot of work needs to be done before consensus can be reached.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on these two budget plans. Please call me, email me, or write to me to share your views.
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000