OLYMPIA—Washington’s Legislature begins its 60-day session today with a budget that is out of balance and a looming debate over whether increased taxes are part of the solution to bringing it out of the red.
Legislators are being asked by Gov. Chris Gregoire to find as much as $1.5 billion in savings in the $32 billion budget. Cuts that deep will endanger key programs for schools, colleges, health care and public safety, she says, and voters should be asked to “buy back” about $500 million worth of cuts through a temporary increase in the sales tax.
But not all Democrats agree that the sales tax is the place to find new revenues, and most Republicans argue the Legislature should find savings through reforming state government before there’s any talk of a tax increase.
The session starts at noon today with a ceremonial opening. Gregoire will deliver her “state of the state” address on Tuesday.