The Association of Washington Business is pleased that lawmakers reached bipartisan agreement early this morning on a supplemental budget that puts Washington on a path toward responsible, sustainable spending.
“It wasn’t easy – and nobody got everything they wanted – but lawmakers proved it is possible to come together and find a way to protect what’s most important, including education and jobs, while also adopting long-overdue reform measures that will hopefully end the cycle of never-ending budget deficits,” said AWB President Don Brunell.
Positive elements of the budget deal include:
- Passage of Senate Bill 6636, requiring a four-year budget outlook and adoption of a four-year balanced budget. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, is aimed at putting an end to the practice of lawmakers making overly optimistic projections about future revenue, and then failing to deal with shortfalls by pushing them ahead to the next budget cycle.
- Passage of Senate Bill 6378. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, makes important reforms to the state pension system and is estimated to save $1.3 billion over 25 years.
- Passage of Substitute Senate Bill 5940, sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens. The bill, which stemmed from a report from the State Auditor, aims for parity between teachers and other state employees regarding health benefits, while achieving savings for the state.
- Passage of House Bill 2824, sponsored by Rep. Deb Eddy, D-Kirkland. The legislation formally removes the requirements of Initiative 728, the class-size reduction measure approved by voters but never funded. Although lawmakers never implemented the measure, its cost remained on the books, perpetually adding to future deficits.
- Extension of a tax incentive for fruit, vegetable, dairy and seafood businesses. The incentive, which was set to expire July 1, was extended through 2015.
- Extension of a tax incentive for data center equipment through 2015.
- Passage of a $3 billion capital budget that will create an estimated 43,000 jobs for K-12 construction and other projects.
Unfortunately, lawmakers also repealed a tax deduction on first mortgage interest for interstate banks. AWB opposed the move, not only because tax incentives generally help offset Washington’s high tax rate and make the state more competitive, but also because it pitted one industry group against another.
“This budget agreement is a compromise solution, and it’s unfortunate it took so long to reach,” Brunell added. “But it contains some important signs of progress, and we hope it puts the state on the road toward long-term fiscal stability, which is what’s required to create an environment in which jobs and the economy can flourish.”
About the Association of Washington Business
Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 7,800 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit www.awb.org.