Both the House and the Senate are controlled by the Democrats, and the McCleary funding problem would have been addressed had not one Democratic senator sided with the Republicans, giving them a slim 25-24 majority and control of the Senate.
According to an email I received from Rep. Kristine Reeves, “Senate Republicans passed a budget proposal that includes two areas the Democrats cannot agree with: raising property taxes about $5.5 billion statewide, which hurts middle-class families, homeowners and businesses across the state. Second, they made significant cuts to the safety social net and local school levies.
The House Democrats passed a budget that fully funds education without making the Senate cuts. They did this by not raising property taxes but by asking the wealthiest people in our state to pay a little more of a fair share. The House plan ends tax breaks given to the wealthy few, like the capital gains and corporate tax preferences, from which almost no one in our state but the richest among us benefit. It also provides real relief to most small businesses, cutting or eliminating their B&O tax, to ultimately keep more money in local communities.”
Sen. Mark Miloscia responded by saying, “We don’t need an income tax to meet McCleary (where he got that idea is anyone’s guess?). Our plan does not raise taxes. It is revenue property tax reform. In fact, we spend more on education than the Democrats do in the next budget. There are not the votes for an income tax in the House or Senate, so we cannot negotiate the rest of the Democratic budget because it is imaginary.
“Our budget raises education and human services spending the greatest amount in state history and solves McCleary. I consider this a great budget especially since my constituents will see a tax decrease. Why do we need to negotiate an $8 billion tax increase when we don’t have to and there is not the votes in the House or Senate for it.”
Does this make any sense to you, because it doesn’t to me. How can you have a tax decrease when you are raising property taxes $5.5 billion, assuming Rep. Reeves information is correct? Last, I asked both of them about the solution to the local levy problem (i.e. the levy swap), where some school districts get more than funding than others and neither bothered to respond.
Just like last year, legislators are now in their second special session. The Republican Senate’s message of “my way or the highway” simply will not work, nor accomplish anything. The only solution is for both parties to come to the table and negotiate a fair and equitable compromise that is in everyone’s best interests. The $64,000 question is: “How long is it going to take for that to happen?”
Gary Robertson, Federal Way