House Approves Revised Budget as End of Special Session Looms
With just four days left in this special legislative session, policymakers are still divided over how to address a roughly $1 billion revenue shortfall for the remainder of the 2011-13 budget cycle. Yesterday, the House passed its revised budget proposal; the Senate's proposal awaits approval.
While they take different approaches, neither proposal adequately addresses Washington’s flawed revenue system, the dominant cause of the state’s long-term fiscal challenges.
Key differences between the proposals include:
Ending fund balance-- both proposals leave money in reserve
- House budget - $335.7 million
- Senate proposal- $437.4 million
Cuts -- both proposals cut millions of dollars from investments in Healthy People & Environment, Thriving Communities, Education and Opportunity, and Economic Security (see graph below).
- House budget- cuts $315 million.
- Senate proposal would make deeper cuts of approximately $530 million.
- The Senate proposes to skip a $143 million pension payment for retired state employees.
- The House budget adopts a procedural change in how local government taxes are distributed, resulting in one-time savings of $238 million in the current budget cycle.
While the current budgets under consideration may enable legislators to wrap up their work for now, the long-term structural problems with our revenue system remain. As a result, subsequent budget cycles will result in the same challenges and deeper cuts.