House GOP releases budget proposal

February 17, 2012

Budget writers for the House Republicans released the first legislative budget proposal of the 2012 Session today (Day 40). Though a copy of the actual budget bill is not available yet here are some of the details according to a GOP release:

Our $1.6 billion budget solution includes:

  • $63 million in fund transfers
  • $160 million in unspent agency funds (known as 'reversions')
  • $64 million in local government distributions
  • $336 million in savings from reduced caseloads
  • $840 million in spending reductions
  • $36 million from repealing three tax exemptions
  • $26 million in the sale of surplus property
  • $651 million left in reserves

The three tax exemptions targeted for repeal are:

  1. First mortgage interest deduction for large banks
  2. Renewable energy sales tax refund
  3. Out-of-state shell corporations that reduce B&O tax liability

A few things that caught my eye about the House GOP budget proposal:

  • Fully funds I-1163 (Home healthcare workers) versus using these funds to buy back other priorities;
  • Does not restore the $8 million I-900 fund raid as requested by the State Auditor;
  • Does not repeal I-728/732 (the measures remain suspended, however);
  • Does not rely on fund delay payment gimmicks (such as the $330 million school apportionment delay proposed by the Governor); 
  • Does not rely on implementation of the new gambling proposal to improve the balance sheet (the ending fund is built without this new revenue); and 
  • Spends less than the February revenue forecast (lives within the existing revenue).

Speaking on behalf of his budget proposal Rep. Alexander said:

We’ve said from day one that before there’s any talk of a huge sales tax increase, there needs to be a discussion and a focus on state priorities – the core services of government.  I don’t know if that has happened in the other caucuses but I know our caucus spent countless hours during December’s special session and earlier this session developing our priorities and specifically defining each one. This budget is a direct reflection of that effort.  It is an all-priorities budget that funds the core services of government, which we believe are education, protecting the public, and protecting the most vulnerable.  And we do this with no state sales tax increase; no bonding; no securitization; and, no budget gimmicks.

Here is a breakdown of how the House GOP budget compares to the Governor's proposal.

House Democrats are expected to release their budget proposal early next week but Rep. Hunter has stressed he would not release a budget if he did not have the votes needed for it to pass. The Senate is expected to release its budget shortly after the House. The last day of the 2012 Session is in 20 days on March 8.

Here are additional details from the GOP budget summary (in-part):

  • Fully fund Levy Equalization
  • No early release or less community supervision for criminals.
  • No increase or 'sweep' of Nursing Home Safety Net Assessment.
  • Provide subsidized health care for undocumented children in a family of four with income of $30,657 or less (133 percent of federal poverty level reduced from 200 percent).
  • Maintain funding for 48-months of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits (currently 60 months).
  • Fund subsidized child care for family of four making less than $30,657 per year (133 percent of federal poverty level reduced from 175 percent).
  • Reduce TANF monthly cash grant by 5 percent.
  • Reduce Department of Ecology General Fund support by 14 percent.
  • Eliminate all General Fund support for the Puget Sound Partnership.
  • Maintain current eligibility for State Need Grant program for family of four making $57,000 or less (70 percent of median family income). No additional increase in tuition.
  • Reduce state employee monthly health benefit funding rate from $850 to $800.
  • Institute 24 days of furlough for all state employees except critical services (e.g. corrections, state hospitals, law enforcement, etc.) starting July 1, 2012.
  • Reduce most general government agency budgets by 5 or 10 percent.
  • Sell three large state-owned 'surplus' properties and the liquor distribution center per I-1183.