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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

House Dems: Spend more on schools, close 15 tax ‘loopholes’

OLYMPIA -- House Democrats released their 2013-15 budget proposal this afternoon with calls for adding $1.9 billion to public schools, extending taxes set to expire at the end of June and closing a series of tax preference.

It's in sharp contrast to a budget that passed the Senate Friday on a bipartisan 30-18 vote that has no tax increases -- in fact, there are about a dozen new credits -- and about $1 billion extra for schools.

It also spends more on public colleges, allowing for some tuition increases. That's different from a Senate plan that would cut tuition by 3 percent.

"It's a responsible, honest and sustainable budget," House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said at the official "rollout". "It actually funds the reforms (in education) that we said we would do."

Among the tax exemptions the proposal would close is the ability for residents from some other states to avoid paying sales tax on purchases in Washington. Under the House Democrats's proposal, that would disappear except for auto sales.

The largest amount of "new" revenue would come from making permanent an increase in some business taxes enacted as temporary in 2011. It also extends, at a lower rate, a temporary tax on beer enacted at the same time. Together, that would raise an additional $593 million over two years.

With the state under orders from the Supreme Court to do a better job of paying for public education, the House Democrats propose increasing spending by $1.3 billion for programs that address the court mandate, and an extra $1.9 billion total for education.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.