December 12, 2016
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Governor to release his McCleary plan Tuesday and proposed 2017-19 state operating budget Wednesday

Gov. Jay Inslee will announce his K-12 education funding plan on Tuesday, and on Wednesday he'll release his full 2017-19 state budget proposal, The Seattle Times reported this morning.

Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, the lead Senate budget writer, sounded the alarm on the governor’s budget proposal last week as anticipation grows about the soon-to-be-released plan.

Braun’s concern is how the budget may be cobbled together after $700 million in state employee collective bargaining agreements were announced. And, he said, it’s not about the pay raises -- it’s about the process.

As The Seattle Times reported, “The contracts were negotiated in private, but before Inslee can include any of the raises in his proposed budget, state law says his Office of Financial Management must certify that they are ‘feasible financially.’”

That prompted Braun to send a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee’s Financial Management director asking that the pay agreements be put on hold until it can be determined if the raises are possible without increasing taxes or cutting other state services.

Inslee’s budget may be further complicated by costs to comply with the state Supreme Court’s education funding mandates laid out in its 2012 ruling. Cost estimates range roughly $2-3.5 billion every two-year budget cycle.

Despite a projected 8.6 percent tax collection growth, the pay raises and K-12 education spending combined could sharply raise the projected shortfall over the four-year budgeting process.

That could prompt Inslee to include tax increases to balance his budget, something AWB Government Affairs Director for tax and fiscal issues, Eric Lohnes, will be looking at when the budget is released later this week.

The governor’s budget is always released first and is the starting point for negotiations on the two-year spending plan in the House and Senate over the 105-day legislative session that begins Jan. 9.

Another possible complication: a legal battle over the use of local levies that has seen costs pile up for seven districts around the state. The Herald has more.

Contact Lohnes For more information and updates on the governor’s budget and tax and fiscal issues.

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