Crosscut’s John Stang followed-up state House Democrats’ budget reveal on Friday with an attempt to blame state Senate Republicans for the likelihood of the 2015 legislative session going into overtime. Stang wrote,
“No one in Olympia really believed that the State Legislature would adjourn by its April 26 target.
“The initial response from Senate Republicans to the $38.8 billion, 2015-2017 budget unveiled by House Democrats on Friday makes it pretty clear that this session is likely headed for overtime…”
Specifically, Stang pointed to GOP state Sen. Andy Hill’s reaction to Democrats’ $39 billion budget that includes a historic $5.2 billion spending increase (up 15.4% from the last budget) and $1.5 billion in tax increases ($2.4 billion in the following biennia) via a state capital gains income tax and B&O tax hikes. As Shift reported, Hill stated his concern over the House’s reliance on “volatile tax increases” to meet the meet requirements of the McCleary decision. Citing the state’s projected revenue increase of $3 billion, Hill also re-iterated what he has said from the beginning: “Tax increases should be the last resort, not the first response.”
Hill’s legitimate concerns, according to Stang, means Republicans deserve blame if the 2015 legislative session does not wrap-up on time.
Stang would do well to remember that it was Hill who warned House Democrats not to neglect the agreed upon deadline of March 23 if they wanted to wrap-up session on time. And, it was House Democrats who neglected the agreed upon deadline and presented their budget on March 27.
It was also Hill who reminded House Democrats that a complete budget requires them to balance their proposed spending with revenue. He warned that not doing so would prolong the budget negotiation process. And, it was Democrat House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan who admitted Democrats have no plans to vote on bills to raise taxes this week to cover the spending the House proposed in its budget.
Stang should perhaps also ask himself why House Democrats did not produce their budget sooner. Certainly, Democrats had every opportunity to complete their budget early and guarantee session adjourns on time.
This year, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its revenue forecast early (on February 20, 2015). Given the fact that they borrowed extensively from Jay Inslee’s budget (released on December 18, 2014), one would think House Democrats capable of introducing their budget early as well. Unfortunately, House Democrats did not even manage to introduce their budget by the widely recognized deadline.
As Shift pointed out, the similarities between the House Democrats’ budget and Inslee’s are extensive. Yet, House Democrats took 98 days from the day Inslee introduced his budget to propose their imitation budget. The relevant question seems to be: What took Democrats so long?
Unlike House Democrats, Senate Republicans are not wasting anytime to respond with their state budget proposal. Republicans are set to introduce their budget this afternoon.