Politics blog

House Democrats propose $100 million in new revenues - teacher COLA included in budget

Staff writerFebruary 26, 2014 

House Democrats released their supplemental budget proposal at the Capitol on Wednesday, echoing the new-revenues plan outlined a day before by minority Democrats in the Senate. They would give cost of living pay adjustments to public-school teachers and raise $100 million in new revenues by closing four tax exemptions.

The tax plan is identical to one outlined Tuesday by minority Democrats in the Senate.

The proposal is half the size of Gov. Jay Inslee’s, which sought to raise $200 million a year by closing seven exemptions. Those tax breaks targeted by the House and Senate Democrats are exemptions for recycled fuel products used by refineries, for bottled water sales, for out-of-state shoppers, and for re-sellers of prescriptions.

House Appropriations Committee chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said his proposal is “a modest budget. It doesn’t do a whole lot.’’

A Republican lead on education funding, Sen. Bruce Dammeier of Puyallup, declined to comment until he had a chance to review the proposals.

Budget writers in the Senate – both Democrats and Republicans – have embraced a base supplemental budget plan that does not raise new revenues and adds about $38 million for materials, supplies and operating costs in K-12 schools. That compares to $60 million in the House plan.

Democrats in both chambers favor the cost of living increase for teachers.

House Democrats also would bump up community mental health funding by $10.4 million and add $20.5 million for contracts with child-care providers. Links to House budget documents are here and links to Senate documents are here.

The Republican-dominated Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has resisted calls to raise revenues this year.

Both chambers are working on funding plans to give to the Supreme Court by April 30 showing how the state would meet its obligation to fully fund public schools by 2018.

UPDATE: Also released by the House is a bipartisan school construction proposal that would shift a share of state lottery proceeds to pay for $700 million in bonds. The money would provide hundreds of K-3 classrooms at districts statewide and make sure the state had classrooms ready in 2017-18 when class-size reductions are anticipated, according to Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, and Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union.

We’ll have more for the morning paper.

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