Democrats confirm I-601 strategy - Budget gimmicks used to raise spending limit
by Jason Mercier for
OLYMPIA—At a March 24 House Appropriations hearing on Governor Gregoire's 2005 "emergency" supplemental budget, Rep. Eileen Cody (D) acknowledged that Democrats were pursuing budget gimmicks in order to artificially increase the voter-approved I-601 spending limit.
In Gregoire's $219 million 2005 "emergency" supplemental budget, the governor transfers $45 million from the general fund to the Health Services Account. But Gregoire then plans to transfer $86 million from the Health Services Account to the general fund in her 2005-07 budget. This budget shell game artificially increases the I-601 spending limit. This means that the people will not be able to vote on this increase as required under the law.
Rep. Barbara Bailey (R) offered an amendment to the supplemental budget to remove the $45 million transfer to the Health Services Account. This amendment was opposed by Rep. Cody who stated the transfer was needed in order to increase the I-601 spending limit. Rep. Bailey's amendment failed.
"Democrats are free to raise taxes and spend at any level they want, but under the law, the voters are to be given the opportunity to approve expenditures in excess of the I-601 spending limit," said Jason Mercier, budget analyst for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. "By playing budget games the Democrats are denying the people their right to reaffirm that the budget actually reflects their priorities."
If the Democrats were to not artificially increase the voter-approved I-601 spending limit, the governor's $203 million tax increase to fund I-728 and I-732 would require a vote of the people for approval. This is due to the fact the expenditures and tax increases would exceed the I-601 limit.
"Rather than resort to budget gimmicks to thwart the will of the people, Gregoire should refer the full costs of the two 'free' education initiatives to a vote of the people with a corresponding revenue source," said Mercier.
Below is a partial transcript from the March 24 House Appropriations hearing on Rep. Bailey's amendment to remove the $45 million transfer to the Health Services Account.
Contact: Jason Mercier | Budget Research Analyst | 360.956.3482
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