The supplemental budget passed Tuesday by the Washington Legislature had broad support in the House, with nearly all the lawmakers representing the Tri-Cities approving it.
Except for Rep. Brad Klippert, a Kennewick Republican.
The budget’s supporters have acknowledged it isn’t perfect but state Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, one of the budget’s key architects, described it as a “strong sustainable budget that recognizes the state’s needs but lives within our means.”
But that wasn’t enough for Klippert, who said lawmakers relied too much on transferring money between government accounts and on projected revenue from the federal government to balance its books.
“It’s not so much the budget itself but how we got to the end product,” he told the Herald.
The supplemental budget added $191 million in spending to the 2015 budget. It spends millions on teacher recruitment, aiding the homeless and uses $190 million from the state’s emergency fund to cover damage from last year’s wildfires.
It’s not so much the budget itself but how we got to the end product.
Rep. Brad Klippert
Instead of raising taxes, lawmakers opted for transferring money from other funds to cover the additional spending, as well as on a projection of nearly $50 million in back state taxes owed by a number of corporations.
While House goals of raising beginning teacher salaries and tapping the emergency fund to also help the homeless were left out, as was a Democratic initiative to put even more money to recruiting teachers, many said it was a good compromise.
Moving money out of the state’s Public Works Trust Fund was one move that Klippert said he was particularly bothered by. That money is of particular importance to cities who need it for infrastructure projects and “they were hoping we’d make that whole again.”
Klippert also thought it foolhardy to rely on federal dollars given a federal debt in the trillions.
Other lawmakers who opposed the supplemental budget criticized it for not addressing education, particularly the “levy cliff,” a 2018 deadline that limits operations levies approved by voters in individual districts.
Klippert denied his vote was intended as a statement as it posed no risk of defeating the budget, but said if the vote had been closer “it’s possible I would have taken longer to consider it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.