Monday, February 21, 2011
OLYMPIA - The state House of Representatives last Friday passed an agreement negotiated between the House and the Senate to address the deficit in the current two-year operating budget, which runs through June 30.
Most state Republicans are describing the spending bill as "flawed."
House Bill 1086, which has since been signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire, is expected to reduce just half of the nearly $600 million shortfall for the remainder of the 2009-2011 biennium, with $367 million in reductions and fund transfers.
Fifteenth District Reps. Bruce Chandler and David Taylor voted against the proposal, saying it was too little, too late, in addressing the budget shortfall for the short- and long-term.
"This fiscal document fails to respond to the direction voters gave us," said Chandler, R-Granger.
"This delays making long-term choices, and only gets us halfway to balancing this budget. When it's time to solve the next budget shortfall, it will be much more difficult because of the failure to make real decisions now.
"Nothing is changed in government activities with this proposal. We must have a sustainable budget for the future of this state, and to ensure we come out of this recession stronger than before. This proposal grabs local levy money to pay for the state's reckless spending," Chandler said.
The legislation includes $25 million in cuts to kindergarten through 4th grade staffing ratios, which is retroactive, meaning some schools will have to pay back money already obligated and spent on teachers.
"Contrary to assertions by the majority party, this is not an 'early action' budget, and it's not even a 'middle action' budget. It's just a 'reaction budget,' and a delayed reaction at that," said Taylor, R-Moxee.
"Rather than setting priorities through disciplined budget-writing, this so-called 'compromise' is a back-handed slap at school districts, it perpetuates a long-term pattern of failure to consider real budgetary reform, and does nothing to reduce the size of government," Taylor said.
The bill was approved 55-41 and sent on to the governor for her consideration. Budget writers plan to tackle the remainder of this year's deficit after the next revenue forecast is released March 17.