Shea votes to reduce budget deficit
Lawmakers gathered in a one-day special session today to take early action to decrease a $1.1 billion deficit for a state operating budget that runs through June 30.
- $490 million in spending reductions throughout state government; and
- $44 million from a tax amnesty bill also approved today.
Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said he's pleased Republicans were offered a place at the budget-negotiating table, which began the process of long-needed reforms and solutions.
“We've been offering solutions for months. Unfortunately, it has taken until now for the Legislature to act in a meaningful way to reduce the budget deficit. I thank the Democratic majority for allowing us to bring our solutions to the table, and for listening to us and implementing them. This is a first, but important step toward addressing the state's budget problems,” said Shea.
The 4th District lawmaker said Republicans also stood firm to protect levy equalization funding.
“That's a critical issue for the Spokane Valley and Riverside School Districts. Because we acted now, we were able to protect levy equalization dollars for our local schools. We also stood firm to protect long-term care and nursing homes for our most vulnerable,” added Shea.
He noted that when lawmakers return to Olympia in January, they will not only need to close the remaining gap of the current year's budget deficit, but will also be crafting a 2011-13 budget that must close a projected deficit exceeding $5 billion.
“This is just the beginning. The problem will be much bigger when the legislative session convenes next month. However, I look forward to providing solutions in January as we go forward,” said Shea. “One of those solutions will be restructuring DSHS. I signed onto a bill today to do exactly that. We will need to tackle that issue head on. Another bill I signed onto is the Education Flexibility Act, which would allow our school districts to make the best use of state money as they see fit. These are the kinds of solutions we will need in these difficult budget times.”
Shea also hopes to bring more public awareness to the overall growth in government.
“It's important for the public to understand what we are really talking about is decreasing growth in the budget. These shortfalls are in an expanded budget. When we're talking about deficits, we need to begin focusing on limiting the growth of government,” he said.
“Ultimately, more sacrifices will have to be made by state public employees. I know they have already gone through cutbacks, but there will be more. I look forward to working with them to help come up with solutions to balance this budget so we can continue to protect the most vulnerable, and fund education, transportation and public safety,” concluded Shea.
###Washington State House Republican Communications