Senate Republicans have released a $43 billion, two-year budget that puts an additional $1.8 billion toward education in Washington state, paid for by a mix of increased revenue from a statewide property tax that ultimately would replace local district levies, a series of fund transfers from other accounts and spending cuts in some state programs.
The budget plan - which spends about $5 billion more than the current two-year budget - was released Tuesday, and it was to move quickly to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The full chamber could vote on it as early as Thursday.
"There's enormous inequity in the state right now," said Sen. John Braun, R-Lewis County, "What we do is make that equal. We propose a fair rate that's the same around the state."
House Democrats are set to release their budget plan next week.
According to numbers from Senate Republicans, the average Seattle homeowner would see a $177 a year increase in property taxes under their proposal. The average homeowner in Auburn would see a $593 decrease in annual property taxes.
Governor Jay Inslee proposed taxing the state's top investment earners and polluters.
He said the proposed cuts to social services would harm pre-schoolers, the needy, and state employees. He also said the property tax change unfairly targets Seattle homeowners.
"These people are going to get hit with big property tax increases without significant money going into their schools, because that essentially went into tax cuts to other people in the state," said Inslee.
Lawmakers are in the midst of a 105-day legislative session that is scheduled to end April 23. They need to write a new two-year operating budget that satisfies a state Supreme Court order requiring them to fully fund the state's basic education system.
There are differing ideas between the politically-divided chambers on how best to do that. House Democrats have passed an education plan but have not yet indicated how they'll pay for it. Senate Republicans previously passed a plan that seeks to replace local school levies with a statewide uniform rate earmarked for schools. The plan would raise the local school levy in some places, like Seattle, and decrease it in others.
You can see how much property taxes would go up or down under the latest budget proposal in the document below.
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