House Republicans lead on budget that lives within state’s means

Remainder of state budget rolled out today is a follow-up to the fund education first budget presented Feb. 2

Today, House Republicans presented what they call an “all priorities” state budget for the public to review. With less than three weeks left in the legislative session, House Republicans' budget would fund core state services and take the prospect of a tax increase on the November ballot off the table. Rep. Joel Kretz supports the budget and believes it represents the values and priorities of Washingtonians.

“We've worked with the majority party up to this point to find common ground on a budget solution that closes the nearly $1.1 billion dollar spending gap without relying on tax increases or gimmicks, like delaying school apportionment payments. In the end, we could not compromise our principles to wait for their budget that may or may not reflect the priorities and reforms we know need to be part of the overall solution,” said Kretz, R-Wauconda and deputy Republican leader.

This session's budget issues came to light just a few short weeks after the 2011-13 state budget was passed in May 2011. The governor alerted the Legislature in September 2011 to prepare for a special session in December to address the nearly $2 billion shortfall. Since that time, a small part of the spending gap was addressed, but as of today, the Democrat majority has yet to present its ideas on balancing the state's checkbook – with or without new or higher taxes.

“We've been solution-oriented from the start with our 'get Washington working again' jobs package, Fund Education First proposal and commitment to fund the priorities of government within current tax collections. Yet, all we've seen is stalling from the majority party. These delays create a situation where schools can't plan their budgets, the disabled can't look to the future knowing employment programs will be there and our elderly can't be secure in the knowledge they'll get the long-term care they need,” Kretz said. “That's unacceptable to me and that's why I believe our budget is the solution.”

The House Republican budget would:

  • fund education first in a separate budget, which includes full funding for levy equalization, the 180-day school year and all-day kindergarten – this represents a $580 million increase for basic education over the governor's proposal;
  • bolster public safety by not reducing sentences or community supervision for criminals, fund key safety protections for correctional staff in our prisons and find new ways to address gang violence in our communities – this represents a $40 million increase for public safety over the governor's proposal; and
  • fund critical programs for the vulnerable and disabled, such as adult day care, employment programs for the disabled, long-term care, Critical Area Hospitals and Regional Support Networks – this represents an $89 million increase for programs for vulnerable populations over the governor's proposal.

“The time for action and leadership is now,” Kretz said. “We've known for something like 115 days the Legislature needed to act on balancing the state budget. Unfortunately, one-party rule in this state has led to inaction. I'm proud to be part of a group that, even as the minority in the Legislature, is prepared and willing to lead this state out of this tough economic time and make the necessary decisions that will make our state budget sustainable for years to come. We'll be criticized by some for cutting the Department of Ecology by 14 percent to fund long-term care and other critical services, but when you're out front, you'll get arrows in your back. However, House Republicans believe it is the right and responsible thing to balance the budget by focusing on the priorities of government and without holding critical services hostage to a tax increase.”

More details on the House Republican budget and Fund Education First budget can be found here and here, respectively. The House Republican budget leader Rep. Gary Alexander also sent out a detailed press release on the House Republican budget, which can be read here.

The session began Jan. 9 and is scheduled to adjourn March 8.

CONTACT: Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer: (360) 786-7252

###

Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov