Sen. Padden issues statement on final budget vote

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, released the following statement after the Senate’s final vote Friday on the 2017-19 operating budget. Padden was the only member of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus to vote against the $43.7 billion budget agreement. The budget bill, SB 5883, was approved in the Senate by a vote of 39-10, and in the House 70-23.

“There is much to appreciate in the final budget deal,” Padden said. “We managed to block proposals for new taxes on capital gains income and for increases in business and real estate taxes. It also provides funding for important public safety legislation. But the final deal represented a compromise with the House, and it forced the Senate to swallow some very bitter pills.

“State tax collections have increased $2.6 billion since we wrote our last budget in 2015, yet the final deal forced us to increase taxes still further, by imposing the sales tax on Internet sales. We should have been talking instead about tax relief, and returning some of that money to taxpayers. State spending will increase nearly 14 percent at a time when the budget for the city of Spokane Valley is growing just two percent. State spending has ballooned by nearly a quarter in the last seven years, and this rate of growth is not sustainable.

“The budget expands the state bureaucracy by creating a new Department of Children, Youth and Families. Many of us are concerned that the session-ending deal creates a new paid-family-leave program that will increase costs for small business and damage job creation in Washington state. And particularly troubling was the fact that the final deal eliminated a provision we passed in the Senate that would have made substantial improvements in women’s health, by reprogramming $1.7 million from abortion providers to women’s breast and cervical cancer screenings.

“Sometimes compromises can go too far. They certainly did this year. And with reluctance, I was forced to cast my vote against the measure.”