Isn't it Weird That

1. Isn't it weird that two days after the Republican-controlled state senate passed what amounts to a fatwa on new taxes by requiring a two-thirds vote to advance new tax measures—they passed a resolution today honoring former Gov. Dan Evans, the iconic moderate environmentalist Republican who ... proposed a state income tax.

Today's resolution, with a parade of GOP sponsors, fails to note Evans' iconoclastic fight for tax reform, but Evans, who was governor from 1965 to 1977, did propose a 3.5 percent personal income tax in the late sixties.

Evans was sworn in to his first term 50 years ago this month.

Afternoon Jolt

2. And a Jolt from Olympia today.

Defending Gov. Jay Inslee's budget proposal in front of hostile questions from Republicans, including ways and means chair Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Redmond), who called the budget the largest tax increase in history, Inslee's budget point man and Office of Financial Management Director David Schumacher set the record straight this afternoon.

OFM Director David Schumacher

The Governor is proposing a $39 billion budget, a $5 billion increase over the previous biennium, with a net $1.4 billion in new revenue from a carbon tax ($380 million) and a capital gains tax ($800 million)—plus new dollars from pulling the plug on a series of tax breaks including $51 million in an oil industry loophole.

The GOP ridiculed the proposals for new revenue because there's already $2.9 billion in extra money coming in. Shouldn't they be able to fund the current budget without raising more money, the Republicans ask?

Schumacher explained the basic situation: There's $2 billion mandate from voters to fund smaller class sizes; a $1.5 billion mandate from the Washington State Supreme Court to fund K-12 education; $440 million in labor contract costs; $500 million in mandated teacher pay increases; and tens of millions in court-mandated mental health and social services costs (such as $5.3 million in foster care, $16 million in youth mental health services, and $45 million for psychiatric care).

Schumacher patiently explained that the new $2.9 billion in additional revenue would basically cover maintenance of the existing budget but leave the state in the red for new mandated costs.