Bipartisan budget includes emphasis on education and no new taxes but fails to include job incentives
With time running out in the 2014 legislative session, lawmakers adopted a supplemental operating budget that prioritizes education, continues to balance across four years, doesn’t raise taxes and holds the line on tuition increases for the second year in a row.
“We did the budget right last year, which meant we came into this session without facing a huge deficit for the first time in five years,” said Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick. “That gave us an opportunity to do a truly supplemental budget – simply updating the existing budget plan passed last year, making some modest adjustments, technical corrections, and keeping the state on a healthy fiscal footing.
“I know all the parents in the Tri-Cities will appreciate that we were able to put an additional $42 million into higher education, which will allow our universities to keep tuition frozen for another year. Prior to the formation of the Majority Coalition Caucus last year, tuition had increased steadily for the better part of 30 years; so this is welcomed news indeed.”
The Legislature is required to adopt a biennial operating budget in odd-numbered years; it may pass a supplemental budget in even-numbered years to make minor corrections to the two-year budget.
Included in the supplemental budget are:
- $58 million in for K-12 materials, supplies, and operating costs;
- $20.3 million in community mental-health funding increases, including $7 million for the children’s mental-health settlement; and
- The VIP Act, which will provide services to 5,000 people with developmental disabilities currently on a waitlist, without costing the state additional money.
Brown voiced disappointment that the budget plan failed to include her Reinvest in Washington Jobs Act, which would encourage job growth by creating a pilot program to provide a business and occupation tax credit for a portion of the construction costs of up to five new manufacturing facilities.
“This pilot program to bring manufacturing jobs back to our state has nearly universal support from both political parties, as well as organized labor and employers,” said Brown. “It is baffling why the House of Representatives would refuse to move on this bipartisan bill and leave those manufacturing jobs on the table.
“I look forward to continuing to educate my colleagues about this idea over the next several months, and fighting for its passage again next session.”
The budget passed the Senate 42- 1, and the House of Representatives 85-13.