I came back to the office from a nice lunch, only to have my digestion disrupted by the release of the Senate Republicans' 2013-2015 budget proposal. No new taxes! Of course.
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the whole thing (are they really not even going to tweak the law in response to the Bracken decision, which tossed out the estate tax on married couples due to a technicality, costing state coffers $160 million?). Medicaid expansion is good, but that was obvious, as they needed the $300 million in savings. But refusing to close any tax loopholes (or even let the "hog fuel" exemption expire), well, that's just an exercise in hardline ideology.
At first glance the budget seems to rely on a bit of magical thinking regarding anticipated cost savings, plus the usual accounting tricks. More analysis later. But in the meanwhile, here is a sampling of statements from interested parties, much of it none too pleased:
“The Senate budget released this afternoon is a disturbing proposal that makes one bad choice after another. It should not be the floor or the ceiling in the budget debate. By sweeping all other areas of the budget, this plan will hurt Washington state’s economic recovery and our ability to create middle class jobs. It bets against our future through robbing investments in health, public safety, and family security. It is a bad deal for all Washingtonians.”
— Remy Trupin, Washington State Budget & Policy Center
"Once again, we have a budget before us that asks the poor and middle class for more and those that can afford it for virtually nothing."
— State Senator Nick Harper (D-Everett)
"Part of the Senate's higher ed proposal assumes revenue from SB 5893, which mandates that the universities and CTCs levy a 20% surcharge on international student tuition. ... International students pay the state sales tax in Washington state, and are valued members of our universities. We can do better than funding the budget on their backs."
— Angie Weiss, Associated Students of the University of Washington
“This proposal is deeply flawed. It’s the same old game that relies on short-term fixes and budget tricks, and it results in policy choices that would take our state backward.
“The Senate proposal to address our basic education obligations is funded in large part through cuts to vital services for children, families and vulnerable adults — exactly what I have said we must not do. The proposal released today would cut child care subsidies for low-income families and other families working to get off welfare, and reduce long-term care services for the elderly and people with developmental disabilities. It would make deep cuts to our state prison system, would force us to close state parks and fall far short of my plan for expanding early childhood education opportunities.
“What’s more, the Senate proposal relies heavily on unworkable or unrealistic across-the-board savings, phantom cuts that will leave us with a bigger problem in our next budget. We need to be accountable to the citizens of Washington and be straightforward with them about how we will balance the budget with a sustainable way to meet the urgent needs of — and the constitutional obligation to — our children.”
— David Postman ghostwriting as Governor Jay Inslee
“I’m not yet satisfied by many aspects of this budget. We have looked long and hard over every area of state spending and believe me the only way to solve these problems is to add some sort of revenue into the mix. As we work together in the weeks ahead, I hope that can be accomplished.”
— State Senator Sharon Nelsen (D-Maury Island)
"[W]e applaud the Senate budget writers for funding the home care contract and helping homecare aides take a modest step out of poverty. We also appreciate their support for expanding Medicaid – there is now a clear bi-partisan consensus for expanding access to affordable healthcare through the ACA and helping home care workers take a step out of poverty.
“We are very disappointed, however, that the Senate budget proposes further deep cuts to hours of home care services to vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities. These cuts – on top of repeated reductions over the last four years – will put the quality of care for our most vulnerable at risk."
— Adam Glickman, SEIU Healthcare 775NW