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House Democrat budget would set spending record

Lack of fiscal restraint, budget gimmicks instantly move state treasury toward the red


Olympia, WA - Feb/ 22. 2--6 = As Rep. Gary Alexander feared, House Democrats today showed they are still reigning champions of big-spending with their rewrite of the state’s 2005-07 operating budget. The House budget would allocate an additional $1.326 billion from the state’s general fund, topping the Senate by $15 million.

“This will be the largest spending increase in state history by a long shot, and Republicans can’t stop it because we once again haven’t been allowed a seat at the negotiating table. I won’t be surprised to see a repeat of 2005, meaning the House, Senate and governor will agree on a final budget that’s even higher than any budget proposal we’ve seen so far. The Democrats just don’t seem to know when to say ‘no,’ or ‘enough.’ The taxpayers’ money is being spent on arrival,” said Alexander, R-Thurston County.

New spending driven by policy changes, typically not so prevalent in a mid-term budget, totals $425 million. Those commitments alone would represent the better part of a billion dollars if continued in the next biennium, Alexander noted.

The House budget leaves an ending balance of $238 million, well under 1 percent of the $27 billion-plus in spending proposed. Alexander dismissed Democrat claims that appropriating some $850 million to a quartet of separate accounts is equivalent to putting them in reserve.

“An appropriation is an appropriation – it’s an authorization to spend. The only money that isn’t spoken for is the irresponsibly small amount they leave for the ending balance,” he said.

“There is a lack of honesty with taxpayers in the way this budget is built. Shifting money into various accounts isn’t the same as putting it in reserve. It’s deferred spending. Like a family putting away money for Christmas, it’s not the same as plain old savings, and the Democrats have put more on layaway than the taxpayers can afford.”

Alexander, budget leader for House Republicans, figures the House budget will leave lawmakers a hole of at least $600 million to fill next year when it’s time to write the next biennial operating budget. He said that estimate, based on projections from the governor’s budget office, paves the way for Democrats to approve a second round of tax increases in three years if they continue to control the lawmaking process.

“One way or another the Democrats have committed to spend almost everything available to them at a time when we could and should be building a responsible reserve to protect taxpayers in preparation for the next biennium,” Alexander explained. “Do they remember whose money they’re spending?”

Alexander said there are a number of unnecessary expenditures in the operating budget, as well as the capital construction budget, also released today. But he said the main objection among Republicans is a fundamental difference in how government spends taxpayer money and delivers services.

“We’ve introduced legislation this session that would make bold structural changes in government, save a ton of money and restore truth to the budget process,” he said, “but Democrats have shown little interest in our budget reforms.

“It took the 10 years ending with 2003-05 – that’s five budget cycles – for state spending out of the general fund to increase by $7 billion. The Democrats would raise the general fund spending by nearly $4 billion in a single budget cycle, from 2003-05 to the current biennium. At the rate they’re spending the treasury is headed for the red even if the economy remains steady. And we know from last year how the Democrats are more than willing to raise taxes to balance a budget,” Alexander pointed out.



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