OLYMPIA – Budget leaders in the House and Senate today announced a 2018 supplemental operating budget plan that will provide property tax relief while directing additional funding to K-12 education, mental health care and college financial aid.
The budget plan includes no new taxes and complies with the state’s four-year balanced budget requirement. It leaves $2.4 billion in reserves at the end of the current budget cycle, the largest balance in state history.
“This budget tackles two of our state’s urgent needs — ample funding for education and adequate support for mental and behavioral health,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. “It’s a plan that balances our needs with fiscal discipline while also providing tax relief for people across the state next year. For the last decade, we have worked to improve funding for our schools, and this budget is another milestone. It’s time to finish McCleary and focus on other enhancements in our classrooms and other needs in our state.”
Senate Bill 6614, which runs concurrent with the budget, provides $391 million in tax relief in 2019 with a one-time state property tax rate reduction of $0.30 per $1,000 of assessed value.
“If we had known last year what we learned last month – that projected revenue is much greater than expected – we could have waited to increase the state rate and decrease local rates at the same time, instead of putting so much on taxpayers in 2018,” said Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, prime sponsor of the measure. “This bill will reduce the impact of the 2018 property tax increase on the residents of Washington.”
“This state’s reliance on property taxes has reached a breaking point and I’m glad Democrats have led on providing this tax relief to homeowners across our state,” said Rep. Kris Lytton, D-Anacortes, chair of the House Finance committee. “This short-term relief must be followed by a strong look at our regressive tax code and how we can take the burden off working and middle class families.”
The budget invests nearly $1 billion in education and brings the state into compliance with its constitutional obligation to amply fund our public schools. The new state money would mostly go to fully fund teacher and staff salaries, as directed by the state Supreme Court, in addition to other targeted investments.
“A decade-long odyssey is finally coming to an end. This supplemental budget will fully fund teacher compensation and address the final piece of the McCleary lawsuit,” said Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “We’re able to make these investments while also significantly reducing the State Need Grant backlog, improving our mental health system, providing much-needed property tax relief, and leaving Olympia with healthy, stable reserves. This is a great budget for the people of Washington.”
The budget also invests $306 million more over the next four years to improve mental health treatment in state hospitals and community treatment centers.
It also phases in full funding of the State Need Grant over the next four years, includes key investments to support foster youth, funds TANF grants above pre-recession levels, and increases funding for pediatric care.
About the Supplemental Budget
Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow the state to make mid-course corrections on the two-year budget passed in odd years. This year, the state had the opportunity to make critical new investments that provide high-quality teachers, and address other emergent needs like mental health care and college financial aid.