The operating budget proposed today by Senate Republicans is fiscally irresponsible and needs fundamental improvement before it can be seriously considered, said Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, ranking member on the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee.
“This budget would ring up long-term debt to pay day to day operating costs,” said Mullet, who worked for more than a decade as a managing director for Bank of America. “This is the equivalent of a homeowner taking out a second mortgage to pay the water bill. That’s just fiscally irresponsible.”
The Republicans’ proposal would take out bonds to fund operating expenses, a fundamental financial no-no, Mullet said. At issue is the state’s Public Works Assistance Account, which exists to help finance infrastructure loans for local governments. The fund enables local governments to pay for major construction costs over time, not day to day operating expenses.
“Bonds should not be used to pay for operating costs. This scheme turns daily expenses into long-term debt,” said Mullet, the owner of local pizza and ice cream businesses. “I would never do anything like this in my home or businesses and I won’t do it with the taxpayers’ money.”
When the Republicans proposed emptying the Public Works Account to balance the budget in the previous biennium, Mullet said, he agreed to vote for it as a one-time use of the account’s funds to avoid a government shutdown. “This year the account is empty and it doesn’t take a math whiz to know it’s bad public policy to take money from an empty account,” he said.
“We still have time to fix this and craft a budget that is fiscally sound,” Mullet said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on a solution that uses the taxpayers’ dollars more responsibly.”
Mullet co-sponsored bipartisan legislation earlier this session (Senate Bill 6035) that would have prohibited the state from exactly this kind of maneuver. It was sponsored by 10 Republicans and 14 Democrats. The bill did not receive a hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate.