Since Christmas, Thurston County Rep. Gary Alexander, state House Republicans’ lead budget negotiator, says he has been working on a proposal for bridging the state’s $1.5 billion budget gap that he hopes to present to negotiators Monday on the first day of the legislative session.
Alexander’s plan would leave fewer people covered by the state’s safety net, he acknowledges. But unlike Gov. Chris Gregoire’s plan, he said, his proposal won’t release any inmates early, reduce supervision for those already out of prison, or cut funding for school districts that helps reduce the disparity created by differences in local levies.
The Democratic governor calls for making those cuts but letting voters reinstate them with a half-cent sales tax increase.
“It will not require a new tax increase,” Alexander said of his plan.
That’s a general tax increase, he clarified. He didn’t rule out eliminating some tax exemptions that aren’t working. The leader of the House GOP, Richard DeBolt, suggests a tax credit for wind energy as one that has run its course and should be ended.
Details from Alexander about his budget plan:
It will not make reductions in our public safety areas, and it will not make reductions in levy equalization. … I don’t see any closure of facilities. We’re not proposing to close Rainier School (for the developmentally disabled). But it will require an enhanced partnership with our private sector and our nonprofit sector (to help those falling off social programs).