All you need to know about today’s Senate Democrat budget was the statement by Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown acknowledging that the underlining structural problem in the budget is not addressed by their budget proposal. This means that if adopted, lawmakers and citizens will have the privilege of going through the budget deficit song and dance yet again for the foreseeable future.

Here is a summary of what Senate Democrats propose:

“The Senate’s proposed budget solves this remaining budget problem by a variety of actions including:

(1) making $356 million in spending reductions while making no additional reductions in K-12 or higher education; (2) reducing distributions to local governments by $71 million; (3) generating a net increase of $31 million in additional revenue, which includes limiting the Business & Occupation (B&O) tax deduction for first mortgages and modifying the sales tax exemption for renewable energy equipment; (4) redirecting $71 million in solid waste tax revenues to the general fund; (5) saving $330 million by changing the timing of K-12 apportionment payments to school districts; and (6) keeping an estimated $160 million in agency reversions during 2011-13 biennium in the general fund rather than distributing them to other accounts.”

In a surprise, based on the narrative of the Senate budget process being more conservative, the Senate Democrat’s budget would spend the most and leave the least in reserves of the three budgets currently proposed. Here is a comparison of the three budgets:

  • Senate Democrats: Spending – $30.8 billion; Reserves – $369 million (1.2% of spending)
  • House Democrats: Spending – $30.7 billion; Reserves – $504 million (1.6% of spending)
  • House Republicans: Spending $30.5 billion; Reserves – $651 million (2.1% of spending)

For budget stability, a reserve of at least 5% is recommended.

According to the state’s February revenue forecast, there is a 40% chance that revenues could come in $1.5 billion lower than currently estimated.

A potential shortfall of nearly $2 billion is already being projected for the next budget unless structural spending changes are made now.

The 249 page Senate Democrat budget was posted online at 10:50 a.m. this morning. At 7:56 p.m. last night a public hearing was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today on the budget proposal.


[Reprinted from the Washington Policy Center blog]