One Question

With today's revenue forecast—$121 million in extra revenue coming in the next biennium plus $90 million in savings from an estimated drop in government service caseloads—it's looking likely that, chest puffing aside from both Democrats and Republicans about future debates—the Democrats are willing to sign off on a budget deal and go home, forgoing at least $200 million in new revenue they'd been demanding from eliminating a batch of corporate tax breaks

(To the Democrats' credit they did manage to close a loophole in the estate tax).

The question—for progressives—stands, should they take the money and run?

We put that question to Remy Trupin, the executive director of the Washington Budget & Policy Center, the lefty budget think tank that monitors (and lobbies in) Olympia.

Here's what he said:

No. We still absolutely need revenue. Without it we are still making cuts and punting our current problems to future sessions.  A better question to ask is “What does our state need to make our economic recovery work for everyone?” And what we need is to be making investments that expand opportunity, supports the middle-class and creates jobs. That will take revenue.

Sure, legislators can compromise to make the math work, but that will do little to address the challenges we face as a state.
 The current revenue gap is now $1 billion—that’s the amount needed to maintain critical investments in public health, safety, and economic security. On top of that, we need to make a significant investment in fully funding education—as much as $1.4 billion in the upcoming biennium.  Unfortunately, none of the current proposals measure up—the House invests $839 million and the Senate $760 million in McCleary. Which is nowhere near enough for this year, or for next year.  
 
While the overall economy slowly recovers, we need to recognize that after four years of cuts, we’re leaving too many Washington families behind. Without reinvesting it will be very tough to rebuild the thriving middle class we once prided ourselves in having.
 
A growing economy will play a major role in our state’s ability to reinvest in important public priorities, but more needs to be done to ensure long-term sustainability.

One option is to end outdated tax breaks, as the house and governor have proposed. Additionally, we can strengthen our state’s revenue system by enacting an excise tax on capital gains, and expanding the sales tax to a broader base of services.
 
Sure, legislators can compromise to make the math work, but that will do little to address the challenges we face as a state.

By 2018 we must make an additional $4.5 billion investment in our K-12 education system; patchwork budget proposals currently on the table will only ensure that we’re in the same quandary next session, and the next and the next and the next…

 

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