Two amendments proposed today by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, would have reversed budget provisions that reduce funds to Issaquah and other cities and saddle taxpayers across the state with increased debt to pay for the day to day operation of state government. The amendments failed on straight party line votes.
The first amendment would have restored hundreds of thousands of dollars in biennial liquor excise taxes that have traditionally been distributed to cities and towns to help defray local expenses. Instead, the Senate Republicans’ proposed budget sweeps those funds and applies them instead to help pay for public education. The result is that Issaquah, for example, will lose nearly $300,000 in biennial liquor excise taxes — the equivalent of two fully salaried and equipped police officers.
“We all know we need to fully fund education, but this is not the way to do it,” Mullet said. “Instead of solving the problem, this just moves it someplace else.”
Mullet said the seizure of the liquor tax funds education at the expense of other community needs, which will force communities to reduce services or pass the real costs on to local taxpayers.
“It’s is a textbook case of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he said.
Mullet’s other amendment would have prevented the state from using the Public Works Assistance Account to fund the operating budget.
“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,” said Mullet, the owner of local pizza and ice cream businesses. “Because the account is empty, this would force the state to take on long-term debt at 4-percent interest to pay day to day costs. I would never do anything like this in my home or businesses and I won’t do it with the taxpayers’ money. That’s why I couldn’t vote for this budget.”
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.