15th District legislators say gimmicks not the answer to closing budget deficit

OLYMPIA - State House Democrats on Monday released a budget proposal to address the remainder of the 2009-11 budget and close a $5.1 billion shortfall for the 2011-13 biennium.

Reps. Bruce Chandler and David Taylor said the proposal does not do enough to ensure a sustainable budget beyond the two years.

"Balancing the budget is about more than simply cutting or temporarily suspending programs," said Chandler, R-Granger. "We must recognize that the actions we take on the budget now have a compounding effect. If we cannot afford these programs now, we won't be able to afford them in 2013 when we write the next budget."

The legislators said the proposal by the majority party uses budget "gimmicks," pushing off $253 million in K-12 education apportionments.

Said Taylor, "The proposal is disappointing on several levels, but most significantly, it uses too many one-time monies to meet ongoing obligations that we will just have to pay back in the future. We relied on nearly $2.3 billion in federal money to support the current biennial budget, and now the majority party wants to follow that same path of unsustainability.

"I am also concerned that the Democrats' plan relies on passage of several bills that haven't yet moved out of committee, much less brought to the House floor for debate. To my mind, that's neither transparent nor appropriate," said Taylor, R-Moxee.

State revenue for the 2011-13 budget is actually $3.86 billion more than what was collected in 2009-11. This reflects a 13.8 percent growth in revenue for the state budget. Meanwhile, more than 85 bills to increase taxes or fees have been introduced in the 2011 legislative session.

"We have about $32 billion to allocate among the state's priorities. If we look at ending tax incentives that create jobs, or look at increasing taxes on working families, the people want to know how they're getting more for their money," Chandler said. "This proposal assumes a $500 million increase in fees for the general fund, and ignores the clear message of voters: 'Live within your means.'"

Taylor said with just 20 days remaining in the regular session, lawmakers must act decisively to balance the budget and avoid a costly special session.

"We need a more disciplined, straightforward approach to the budgeting process, and I will be supporting the Republican alternative, which lives within the revenues we have, spends about $1 billion less than the Democrat proposal, and doesn't depend on gimmicks to get to a balanced bottom line," Taylor concluded.

The 2011 regular session is scheduled to end Sunday, April 24.


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