The Freedom Foundation recently broke down just how much of the $1.5 billion in new taxes for 2015-17 (the number would increase to $2-plus billion in the next budget cycle) proposed in House Democrats’ budget would go toward pay hikes for state employees. Under the Democrats’ budget, “spending on public-sector workers’ salaries and benefits would increase by nearly $1 billion over what they’re already being paid.”
Here’s the $987 million breakdown:
- $588 million in wage and benefit adjustments for Washington Education Association (WEA)members;
- $255 million wage and benefit increases for Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE)members;
- $143 million in wage and benefit increases for Service Employees International Union (SEIU)members and other quasi-public employee unions; and,
- $1 million to fund the Labor Education & Research Center, which functions as a publicly subsidized training and support facility for the Washington State Labor Council.
According to the Freedom Foundation, “the unions themselves stand to reap a windfall of $25 million during the next two years” under the Democrats’ budget assuming unions “siphon off an average of 2.5 percent of every member’s salary – in many cases against the worker’s wishes.”
Democrats have attempted to pass off their new tax proposals by insisting they are needed in order to fully fund education and meet the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. That, as Shift has reported, is a simply false. And, the Senate Republicans’ budget proposal proves the state has enough money without new taxes to fulfill its obligations.
With the state projected to take in $3 billion more in revenue during the next budget cycle (2015-2017) than it is currently spending, new taxes are not needed to meet the constitutional obligation to fund our schools and other priorities. Lawmakers have more than enough money to fully fund K-12 education—if they do something that Democrats have avoided for decades, and make education the first priority in the state budget as Republicans have done.
Unfortunately for them, Democrats cannot run away from the reality on numbers. And, the numbers prove Democrats really need more taxpayer money to reward their million-dollar campaign donors—the alphabet soup of unions from the WEA, to the WFSE, SEIU — with nearly a billion dollars in pay raises.
If Democrats decided to make public education their top priority, they would have to leave their campaign donors wanting – and that’s no way for them to generate money for their next campaign. It’s easier to just make up the story that they are raising taxes for “the kids”