Statement from Rep. Norma Smith on House supplemental operating budget
“Today was more than the House majority party passing a budget. It was about a striking difference in priorities.
Education is defined in the Washington State Constitution as our paramount duty, and this budget does not reflect an approach that prioritizes basic education as such. Rather than funding education first, as I've supported, the majority party chose to delay more than 400 million in education and levy equalization payments, essentially putting them off to be paid at a later date in another budget cycle. Levy Equalization is critical to property poor schools. I do not support these kinds of budget gimmicks as a way to balance our budget, especially with our essential education dollars. Our children should receive the state's first dollars, not its last.
Programs for our most vulnerable must remain a priority in the budgeting process. I supported amendments on the House floor that would have restored necessary funding for our developmentally disabled community, and would have restored cuts proposed by the majority party to mental health. These amendments were rejected, highlighting yet another difference between my philosophy and the reality of the budget passed tonight.
Local governments, also struggling during this difficult budget time, lose critical dollars in this budget. To make up for these cuts, majority budget writers give the local governments further councilmanic authority to raise taxes without a vote of the people, to make up for the cuts made at the state level. This is yet another maneuver that passes the buck on to others to avoid the difficult decisions that should be made now in the Legislature.
This budget takes a credit card spending approach by skipping payments due now and pushing them out in to the future. It lacks long-term reforms that could put us on a sustainable budget path, and leaves Washington State in the same situation we continue to find ourselves in year after year. Proposals and amendments we offered yesterday provided an alternative approach that clearly focused on responsible budgeting practices, assuring that in the budgeting process our first dollars fund our core priorities of education, public safety, and programs for our most vulnerable. This budget simply does not reflect my priorities as a legislator, and pushes too many of our fiscal responsibilities down the road and for that reason I could not support the budget before us.
We can and should do better. The public deserves a more honest and sustainable budget.”
###Washington State House Republican Communications