Shortly after the gavels fell Sunday night, bringing an end to the 105-day 2013 session of the Washington State Legislature, Sen. Sharon Brown expressed her dismay that a special session is now required to continue the state’s unfinished business. Brown, a Republican from Kennewick, says the overtime session should never have been necessary.
“When we convened in January, we had one job to do and that was to pass a budget that balances for at least four years, preferably without raising taxes,” Brown said. “I was encouraged when the Senate passed a bipartisan budget proposal by a vote of 30-18 – with the support of nine Democrats – and sent it to the House of Representatives. Unfortunately the House refused to back away from its ridiculous billion-dollar tax increase proposal, which is why we’re now forced into a special session.”
With just over two weeks left in the 15-week session, House budget writers revealed a proposal that would raise taxes on businesses and families in Washington by $1.1 billion in the two-year budget cycle that begins on July 1, with next to none of that revenue going toward basic education. By contrast, the Senate’s budget proposal would redirect nearly a billion dollars of existing revenue largely toward improving education outcomes and reduce state tuition by three percent – all without raising taxes.
Brown says, with Washington residents still struggling to make ends meet, the House proposal was a truly unrealistic place from which to begin negotiating.
“The Majority Coalition Caucus’ focus from day one has been creating jobs, improving education and passing a sustainable, no-new-taxes budget. It was an ambitious challenge to which the Senate has risen admirably,” Brown said. “Now taxpayers are going to be forced to fund yet another special session because the House wants to keep doing business as usual, taking more money out of your pocket and putting it toward special-interest programs.”