December 22, 2014
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Governor Inslee lays out his 2015 budget proposal

Last week, Washingtonians were greeted Monday evening with the start of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-day media blitz to outline his vision for the 2015-17 state operating budget.

The governor began with his announcement of a K-12 and higher education roadmap Monday night that calls for a $2.3 billion increase in education spending over the next two years. The Olympia Business Watch blog has the details.

On Tuesday, the governor introduced his 12-year, $12 billion transportation revenue package at the Highway 520 floating bridge. It did not include a gas tax increase, which is currently the primary source of taxes that fund our transportation infrastructure, but rather a cap-and-trade tax proposal described as a "carbon pollution fee" that he claims will raise $4.8 billion of the total revenue package. AWB continues to support a transportation revenue package, but the governor’s proposed cap-and-trade taxing system diverts attention away from the real goal: getting Washington moving. Our concerns about transportation were only heightened by the letter the governor sent to legislative leaders outlining his plan to move ahead with a costly low-carbon fuel standard.

The governor rolled out his environment and climate-action proposal Wednesday in Seattle. The centerpiece of his plan is a proposed cap-and-trade system that would generate an estimated $1 billion by targeting roughly 130 employers in the state that he deems "major polluters." The governor’s approach is far more punitive than the one outlined by the Washington Climate Collaborative, a newly formed coalition of employers calling for Washington to build upon its successful approach to protecting the environment.

Finally, on Thursday, the governor outlined his overall state operating budget proposal. It would spend $39 billion, up from $34.7 billion, relying on his cap-and-trade tax proposal and a capital gains tax of 7 percent to generate $1.5 billion — over and above the additional $2.9 billion in new revenue the state will collect thanks to an improving economy — over the next two years. The fine points and overview of his entire budget are available on the Office of Financial Management website.

It is traditional for the governor to put forward a budget proposal in December for the Legislature to consider when it convenes in January. It is the beginning of the discussion that will likely last the entire 105-day session and, some speculate, beyond.

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In Our View: Inslee must respect voters

By The Columbian editorial board

With lawmakers facing a difficult budget-writing session in the new year, Gov. Jay Inslee sounds much different from candidate Jay Inslee.

A little more than two years ago, while running for governor, Inslee said, "I would veto anything that heads the wrong direction, and the wrong direction is new taxes in the state of Washington." But on Thursday, Inslee is expected to unveil a proposed state budget that will include at least $1 billion in new revenue. And in government-speak, "new revenue" means taxes.

Certainly, the needs of state government can change over time. The economic landscape continually evolves, and state revenue forecasts can be fluid. But, given the status of the economy, Inslee's change of heart is all the more curious. For the coming biennium, budget writers are expected to have $3 billion more than in the current biennium, thanks to an improving economy. True, they have been handed a multi-billion-dollar bill to adequately fund K-12 public education -- but that invoice was handed down in early 2012 and comes as no surprise. In other words, little has changed to trigger Inslee's flip-flop. But government's insatiable desire to perpetuate itself through the contributions of taxpayers has remained inviolate. This, despite repeated messages from voters that should be easy to interpret.

READ MORE: Click here for the full editorial by The Columbian

Governor Inslee's misplaced budget priorities

Written by Keep Washington Competitive

Members of the Keep Washington Competitive (KWC) coalition, including representatives from business, labor, agriculture and trade sectors, expressed concern this week that Gov. Jay Inslee's proposed cap-and-trade scheme will have a negative impact on the Legislature's ability to pass a long-overdue transportation package -- which would include much-needed investment in freight-mobility projects.

While initial reaction to the governor's budget priorities has been mixed, one area that has elicited immediate and widespread concern is the governor's continued advancing of his environmental agenda to the detriment of other state priorities.

"We are concerned about the effect of the governor's proposal on trade and dedicated funding for freight mobility projects," said Gordon Baxter, Puget Sound Maritime Trades Council and KWC Advisory Board member. "Washington's trade-based economy relies on our ability to move goods through and out of the state expeditiously to keep our competitive standing as a global trade leader and the jobs trade brings."

READ MORE: Click here to read the entire press release from Keep Washington Competitive
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