The House of Representatives voted on Jan. 24 on a proposal to begin dealing with a $500 million budget shortfall for the remaining 2011 fiscal year.
Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, voted against the proposal, which he called a delayed reaction to the state’s fiscal shortfall. Instead, he supported a plan that would have created sustainability by going further in reducing spending and protected vital education funding and the most vulnerable.
House Bill 1086, sponsored by the majority party, makes deep cuts in education and long-term care.
“The really difficult decisions about the role of government, and how we can set our state on a sustainable path have yet to be made,” Hope said. “We must protect our most vulnerable and education. Instead, the majority party leaves education bearing an unnecessary brunt of cuts while continuing to protect large and ineffective programs in DSHS.”
Hope was especially opposed to retroactive cuts in education within the proposal.
“School districts have likely already used this funding to hire teachers. How can our schools have any confidence in what the Legislature says or does when we continue to break promises? This proposal continues to fuel public distrust,” Hope said. “We must do better for our students and teachers.”
An alternative budget proposal offered by Rep. Gary Alexander, Republican lead on the House budget committee, would address the 2011 budget shortfall with different reduction choices. The proposal, amendment H1084.3, was rejected on the House floor.
“This alternative proposal would make difficult choices now to ensure we are in better shape to address the $5 billion shortfall for 2011-13,” Hope said. “In addition, Alexander’s proposed reductions would save $45 million for education compared to cuts passed by Democrats. The proposal I support would make major cuts to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), keeping strong programs and eliminating weak programs. There is no doubt these choices are difficult, but that is what voters hired us to do.”
The Democrat version of the supplemental budget passed 55-43. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.