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Published on Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Senate Republicans release operating budget proposal

Last week, the House Democrats released their 2015-17 state operating budget. Yesterday, it was the Senate Republicans’ turn. Whereas the House proposal relies on nearly $1.5 billion in new revenue, the Senate proposal uses existing revenue and makes spending cuts and fund transfers.

City impacts

AWC is very concerned about a number of cuts to city revenue and programs. Specifically, the Senate’s two year budget proposal:

  • Reduces by $25 million city and county liquor tax revenue allocated by statute (similar to last biennium’s reduction in local liquor revenue).
  • Takes nearly $10 million from the Fire Insurance Premium Tax distributed to 44 cities with LEOFF 1 obligations.
  • Sweeps another $200 million from the Public Works Trust Fund.

An estimate of how much these proposals would cut from your city is available here.

In addition, like the House budget proposal, the Senate proposal does not adequately address other city priorities.

  • Both proposals provide cities and counties with $12 million in marijuana excise tax revenues for the biennium. This is an insufficient amount to address community impacts from marijuana.
  • Neither proposal lifts the cap on the city share of liquor profits.

Overall, the Senate proposal provides cities with an estimated $6 million in new marijuana revenue for the biennium while cutting $30 million in shared revenues and $200 million from the Public Works Trust Fund.

AWC continues to review both budget proposals, and more details about city impacts based on our initial review can be found in AWC’s budget matrix. The legislative documents are posted on the state’s budget website.

What’s next

This afternoon, the Senate Ways & Means Committee will continue to take public testimony and is scheduled to vote the budget out of committee. Senate floor action is expected sometime on Thursday, April 2.

The House Appropriations Committee adopted more than 40 amendments to its budget proposal before voting it out of committee on Tuesday evening. The House is also expected to consider their budget proposal on the floor sometime tomorrow.

Take action

Your voice could be helpful as your legislators consider their votes. Messages delivered by e-mail or phone calls are the best methods. Please remind them:

  • Your city relies on liquor and other shared revenues, and they should not support any proposal that makes further cuts to these vital revenues. The House proposal maintains local liquor revenue. The Senate proposes to cut liquor taxes in half as the Legislature did last biennium and sweep nearly all of the Fire Insurance Premium Tax.
  • The Public Works Trust Fund is a critical infrastructure loan program and further cuts are not acceptable. The House proposal funds a moderate loan list (same as Governor’s budget). The Senate sweeps another $200 million in the next biennium.
  • Cities need a sufficient share of the new marijuana taxes to help address local impacts. Both budget proposals include a new, but small, amount of marijuana taxes to share with cities and counties that don't ban businesses. While cities appreciate such sharing to help address local impacts, the $12 million over two years for cities and counties is insufficient to share among the many communities impacted by legal marijuana.
AWC President Francis Benjamin testifies in front of Senate Ways & Means Committee
AWC Vice President Paul Roberts testifies in front of House Appropriations Committee
Categories: Budget & finance