Angel pans House version of state budget

Calling it "full of problems," 26th District Rep. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) has issued a sharply worded statement critical of the budget passed by the Washington State House of Representatives on Friday night.

“I am so completely disheartened by the choices the majority party made in this budget," Angel said. "They broke the will of the people by gutting Initiative 960. There were no meaningful efforts to reform spending. Rather than setting priorities and reducing the budget, this plan actually adds new programs."

The House of Representatives voted Friday evening, 55-43, to approve a supplemental operating budget that will be funded by nearly $1 billion in tax increases, anticipated federal stimulus money, dipping into the state’s “rainy-day” fund, and siphoning money from dedicated accounts.

"It assumes the federal government is going to provide $641 million in stimulus money," Angel said, "yet Congress hasn’t even approved this appropriation. It also could impose the biggest tax increase in state history – nearly a billion dollars – at a time when our state has its highest unemployment rate in more than two decades.

Rather than raising taxes, she believes, the state should make deep spending cuts.

“We should have used this shortfall as an opportunity to reform spending in the state budget," Angel said. "The governor should have declared a ‘fiscal emergency,’ just like Gov. Christie did in New Jersey with that state’s budget. That would have allowed us to reopen collective bargaining and discuss ways to save millions of dollars.

"Instead," she said, "the majority party chose business as usual, leaning heavily on tax increases and one-time federal money to pay for ongoing programs.

Even worse, Angel continued, the Democrats were not transparent in the way they proposed taxes.

"If tax bills would have been passed one at a time," she said, "the citizens could have truly seen what was being done to them. Instead, mega-tax bills were introduced, many containing 89 or more pages that hide how many taxes are really being proposed."

The $31 billion House supplemental operating budget seeks to close the shortfall through:

* new tax increases ($857 million);

* federal funds ($641 million);

* state fund transfers ($236 million);

* reductions ($653 million); and,

* draining the state rainy day fund ($229 million).

“Passing this budget will be devastating for employers and families in the 26th District and across the state," Angel said, "and will create a downward spiral for years to come that will be very difficult to reverse.”

The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to adjourn March 11.

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