Statement from Rep. Norma Smith on House Democrat budget and end of regular legislative session
Lawmakers adjourned sine die on March 8, but left some unfinished business, specifically a budget shortfall of about $1.1 billion.
Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, issued the following statement:
“We came into this session needing to accomplish only one task, to pass a sustainable, fiscally responsible budget. Unfortunately, the regular session has ended and that has not happened.
“On the final day, the majority passed an updated version of the House Democrat budget, but it has changed very little. It would continue to delay payments to school districts into the next biennium. Some who support the budget call it 'creative accounting,' but our own Democratic State Treasurer Jim McIntire just recently called it a 'felony gimmick.' Not only is this bad fiscal policy at any level, but it sends the wrong message to our students, schools and educators that we put part of our education budget on a credit card when it should clearly be the top priority in our spending plan. I am also concerned that their spending plan leaves only 350 million dollars in reserves. Combine that with the unpaid liability of 330 million dollars to our schools and there is little margin for responding to fiscal emergencies or natural disasters.
“To say I am disappointed that we leaving without a viable supplemental operating budget is an understatement. We will be back for our fifth special session in two years. At the beginning of the session, we talked about the budget needing to be the focus. Instead, we saw work on a lot of other issues and now this will cost our taxpayers up to an additional 16 thousand dollars a day in special session. This could have been avoided.”
The budget passed the House by a vote of 55-43 with three Democrats voting with Republicans against the measure.
###Washington State House Republican Communications