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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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House Democrats release budget plan

WSU Med school part of extra ‘investment’ package

OLYMPIA — House Democrats released their “no new taxes” operating budget for 2015-17 that would approve raises for state workers and public school employees, spend more on mental health and home care, freeze tuition this year at state colleges, keep state parks open and reduce the number of students in kindergarten through Grade 3. But they are calling for more revenue, by closing some $356 million in tax preferences and exemptions. Separate legislation would impose the sales tax on bottled water, limit sales tax exemptions for purchases by non-residents, limit the real estate excise tax exemption on foreclosure sales and repeal preferential business and occupation tax rates for resellers of prescription drugs and royalty income. With that money — if the tax changes pass — Democrats would pay for what they call an “investment package” that goes beyond their base budget. Included in that package would be the money for the Washington State University Medical School in Spokane and more medical residencies in the state. That package also calls for increasing early childhood education enrollment, an additional salary boost for public school employees to equal what state employees get and a second year of a tuition freeze at state colleges and universities. The proposals are scheduled for a public hearing at 3 p.m. in the House Appropriations Committee, and could get a committee vote on Tuesday. The Legislature’s second special session is scheduled to end at midnight Saturday, with the end of the fiscal year on June 30
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