The Legislative Tracker Blog is a forum for our local state Senators and Representatives to provide information about the work they are doing in the 2011 Legislative Session which began on Jan. 10, 2011.
House Republicans unveil Legislature’s first budget proposal for 2012February 17th, 2012 at Fri, 17th, 2012 at 1:54 pm by scottfrank
Rep. Barbara Bailey helps unveil all-priorities state spending at news conference
At a noon press conference in the state Capitol building Feb. 17, House Republicans introduced the Legislature’s first complete supplemental budget proposal for the 2012 session. Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, and ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, spent weeks in deliberations with his caucus colleagues developing the plan which he called an all-priorities budget that protects the core services of state government.
“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,” Alexander said. “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.”
Alexander’s $1.6 billion budget solution includes:
- Fund transfers: $63 million
- Reversions: $160 million
- Local government Dist: $64 million
- Savings from reduced caseloads: $335.9 million
- Spending reductions: $839.5 million
- Repealing three tax exemptions: $35.6 million
- Sale of surplus property: $25.9 million
- Leaves a reserve of: $650.7 million
Alexander said today’s budget release dovetails with the House Republicans’ earlier Fund Education First budget proposal that has gained support from superintendents, principals, parents, teachers and education groups around the state.
“Everything we did in our Fund Education First budget is included in the overall budget,” said Alexander. “It was the first piece of showing our priorities and then showing how we would fund those priorities. We’re continuing that momentum with the release of our full supplemental budget today.”
The House Republican budget invests $580 million more into education than the governor’s budget proposal. Alexander said they continued that trend of investing more into their priorities by putting $35 million more into public safety and $87 million more into protecting the most vulnerable.
Alexander said he’s worked closely with his counterparts in the majority party, especially the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina. However, as the session has progressed, Alexander said he felt like the priorities and principles of his group were – in the end – not going to be adequately reflected by what the majority party was putting together. Despite a healthy respect and good communication between the two budget writers, he said it was time for House Republicans to show a different side to the story.
“I have great respect for the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee,” Alexander said. “He has been open and honest with me and has tried to work collaboratively as much as possible. But our approaches and our desired outcomes were too far apart. Today’s budget is to provide a contrast – a different set of priorities – so the public can see a different way to handle the problem. We are proud of the work that we’ve been able to achieve and feel it represents our core values. And, it will help get Washington working again and save our citizens from further taxes as we pull out of this recession.”
Rep. Barbara Bailey, assistant ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, joined Alexander and Reps. Bruce Dammeier, Maureen Walsh and Charles Ross at the press conference. The 10th District lawmaker highlighted the importance of budget sustainability and setting priorities.
“We felt it was important to lead and show Washingtonians that a sustainable, transparent budget was possible. We have outlined how an all-priorities budget would work and why tax increases are not needed. We want the public to know that there are more solutions on the table than what the majority party plans to offer,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “Budget certainty will provide more economic certainty, and will send the right message to consumers and employers.”
Our budget proposal does not rely on a sales tax increase, but it does:
- Assumes agencies will under spend their budgets by about $160 million, based on past budget cycles;
- Sells three large state-owned “surplus” properties and the liquor distribution center as a result of Initiative 1183; and
- Repeals three tax exemptions totaling about $36 million:
- First mortgage interest deduction for large banks;
- Renewable energy sales tax refund; and
- Ensure businesses do not create out-of-state shell corporations to avoid business and occupation tax.
Our education budget proposal, released Feb. 2:
- Fully funds levy equalization;
- Funds a full 180-day school year;
- Maintains current funding for all-day kindergarten;
- Includes important reforms and increased accountability; and
- Budgets $580 million more in education funding than the governor’s proposal.
You can read more about our Fund Education First philosophy and the detailed proposals here.
Our budget proposal:
- Includes funding for new radios and safety initiatives for prison employees;
- Does not include any early release or reduced community supervision for criminals;
- Includes new funding for gang violence prevention programs; and
- Budgets $40 million more in public safety funding than the governor’s proposal.
You can read more about our solutions for public safety here.
Caring for the Most Vulnerable
We defined “vulnerable,” since the term is often loosely used, as those who cannot care for themselves through no fault of their own. With that definition, we prioritized funding for:
- People with disabilities;
- The elderly (in long-term care);
- Mental health patients; and
We budget $89 million more in these areas than the governor’s budget proposal.
Our budget proposal does:
- Maintain funding for supported employment, supported living, eligibility for personal care services, and agency provider reimbursement rates for people with disabilities.
- Fund 35 out-of-home community placements for people with disabilities.
- Maintain funding for eligibility of personal care services, Adult Day Health, Area Agencies on Aging, and nursing home reimbursement rates.
- Maintain funding for Regional Support Network (RSN) Medicaid reimbursement rates.
- Consolidate the number of RSNs for administrative efficiencies.
- Maintain 97 percent of funding for RSN Non-Medicaid state-only funding.
- Maintain current caseload ratios for Child Protective Service workers and family reconciliation services.
- Maintain 90 percent of current funding for Behavioral Rehabilitative Services and Child Placement case management fees.
- Fully fund reimbursement rates for Critical Access Hospitals and Harborview Medical Center.
- Maintain state funding for school-based Medicaid services and Adult Dental services.
- Provide subsidized health care for undocumented children in a family of four with income of $30,657 or less (133% of federal poverty level).
- 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).
- Reduce TANF monthly cash grant by 5 percent.
Our budget proposal does not:
- Increase or “sweep” the Nursing Home Safety Net Assessment;
- Increase adult family home license fees; or
- Close the Rainier School.
Our budget proposal:
- Does not increase tuition;
- Maintains current eligibility for State Need Grant program for family of four making $57,000 or less (70 percent of median family income);
- Makes changes to the State Need Grant program:
- limit maximum time for grants (two years or four years);
- require filing of application by the FAFSA deadline of March 15;
- Maintains current funding for state work study program; and
- Reduces administrative costs by 0.5 percent at four-year institutions and eliminate funding for remedial education for those under 20 at community colleges.
Our budget proposal:
- Maintains funding for Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers and fish hatchery operations;
- Reduces funding to the Department of Ecology by 14 percent (governor’s proposal reduces by just 4.4 percent); and
- Eliminates all funding for the Puget Sound Partnership.
State Employee Compensation
Our budget proposal:
- Maintains current monthly health benefit funding for K-12 employees;
- Institutes 24 days of furlough for all state employees except critical services (e.g. corrections, hospital, etc.) starting July 1, 2012;
- Reduces state employee monthly health benefit funding rate from $850 to $800; and
- Does not reduce LEOFF 2 pension funding rates.
Our budget proposal:
- Makes $33 million in administrative efficiencies in information technology, goods and services, personal service contracts, travel, equipment and cell phones; and
- Would reduce most general government agencies budgets by 5-10 percent.