State Senate Dems Release Budget Plan

SPOKANE — Democratic leaders in the Washington State Senate have unveiled a plan to deal with the state’s massive $9.3 Billion budget deficit. The plan however doesn’t do quite enough.

The state plans on cutting $4.5 Billion in spending over the next two years. It’ll use $3 Billion from the federal stimulus package so that totals $7.5 Billion which is still roughly a billion dollars short.

So where is that money going to come from? You the taxpayer. Lawmakers plan on asking you to raise taxes.

Senate Democrats say the proposed budget cuts more than the governor’s proposed budget and make unprecedented cuts. But they also claim the cuts make unprecedented steps to make government lighter and leaner.

Cuts include no pay increases for teachers and state employees and those same teachers and state employees will pay more for their health care.

The budget proposed cutting about 7,000 state jobs and also cuts nearly 45,000 people off pay-as-you-go health insurance. Additionally it reduces about 10,000 spots for students at state colleges and universities and cuts money for smaller class sizes in schools.

“This is a devastating budget for our schools and students on our campuses.  There is no way we can provide the education our students deserve with this kind of funding,” Washington Education Association President Mary Lundquist said.

While money for smaller class sizes and teacher pay is being cut, overall spending on K12 schools is increasing from $11 Billion to almost $13 Billion.

Spending on welfare and food stamps also could increase.

The senate is also proposing ending tax breaks for banks when they dispose of foreclosed property as well as ending breaks for hybrid vehicles.

Research groups are also polling Washington voters to see how willing they might be to raise taxes. Those polls show voters are unwilling to hike property and sales taxes but would favor raising sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.