House Republicans unveil their alternative operating budget proposal
Group highlights principles and key differences with House Democratic plan
House Republicans in the Washington State House of Representatives unveiled their alternative operating budget proposal in a news conference today. The group said it has worked with House Democrats since late last year on budget ideas, but differences in principles and priorities led to offering a different plan.
The House Republican solution is based on 13 principles, including: utilizing a priorities-of-government model; no new tax increases; not using one-time money for ongoing programs; transparency; a responsible ending-fund balance; and sustainability.
“While I agree with many aspects of the House Democrats’ proposal, there are still major differences. Unfortunately, their spending plan continues to kick our budget problem down the road and is not sustainable,” said Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, and ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. “We want everyone to know there is an alternative solution to what the majority party is proposing, and we welcome the contrast. Our budget proposal is accountable, responsible, sustainable, and reflects economic realities.”
The House Republican plan would leave a larger ending-fund balance of more than $800 million to protect the state from economic downturns and other emergencies.
“Families and small businesses across our state have sacrificed in these tough times. People expect and deserve more sacrifices from state government,” said Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, and assistant ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. “We need a budget that focuses on those who need services the most, reduces the size of state government and recognizes that citizens do not have any more money to give – whether it’s new fees or taxes.”
The group acknowledged budget decisions are difficult, but that state lawmakers were elected to make these decisions and put the state on a path to fiscal stability.
“We have been studying these budget decisions in great detail and they are difficult and sometimes emotional. But the magnitude of these decisions should not prevent the Legislature from doing what’s necessary for our state’s long-term prosperity,” said Rep. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, and assistant ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. “Our plan represents a fiscally disciplined approach to the state budget. It is sustainable and does not rely on budgetary gimmicks, but still offers meaningful reform and prioritizes education and care for our most vulnerable citizens.”
The group said state lawmakers should finish their business on time and pass an operating budget before the end of the legislative session on April 24. They feel a special session would be irresponsible and an unnecessary expense to taxpayers.
“There are no excuses for a special session. Our work can and must be done on time,” said House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis. “We need to get Washington working again, which means we need a sustainable budget that provides certainty for the taxpayers and employers of our state. One-party control has stifled the voices of citizens and the consideration of new ideas. Whether it’s the budget, the economy or other important issues, we want people to know there are alternative solutions on the table in Olympia. And we will continue to fight for better solutions.”
House Democrats are expected to pass their operating budget from the Ways and Means Committee later today and bring it to the House floor later this week. After the Senate passes its budget bill, Democratic budget leaders in the House and Senate will work out a final compromise in a conference committee. This final compromise will be voted on and sent to the governor to be signed.
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Contact: Brendon Wold, Senior Information Officer, (360) 786-7698
###Washington State House Republican Communications