The Association of Washington Business announced its approval of the budget agreement brokered by state lawmakers April 10, saying the deal puts Washington on a path toward responsible, sustainable spending.
“It wasn’t easy, and nobody got everything they wanted, but lawmakers proved it is possible to come together and find a way to protect what’s most important, including education and jobs, while also adopting long overdue reform measures that will hopefully end the cycle of never-ending budget deficits,” Don Brunell, AWB president, said in a press release.
Positive elements of the budget deal highlighted by the associated included:
-Passage of Senate Bill 6636, requiring a four-year budget outlook and adoption of a four-year balanced budget.
-Passage of Senate Bill 6378, reforming the state pension system estimated to save $1.3 billion over 25 years.
-Passage of Substitute Senate Bill 5940, which aims for parity between teachers and other state employees regarding health benefits, while achieving savings for the state.
-Passage of House Bill 2824, removing class-size reduction measures approved by voters but never funded.
-Extension of a tax incentive for fruit, vegetable, dairy and seafood businesses.
-Extension of a tax incentive for data center equipment through 2015.
-Passage of a $3 billion capital budget that will create an estimated 43,000 jobs for K-12 construction and other projects.
The AWB opposed the repeal of a tax deduction on first mortgage interest for interstate banks, saying tax incentives generally help offset Washington’s high tax rate and make the state more competitive. The association said the move but also pitted one industry group against another.
“This budget agreement is a compromise solution, and it’s unfortunate it took so long to reach,” Brunell said. “But it contains some important signs of progress, and we hope it puts the state on the road toward long-term fiscal stability, which is what’s required to create an environment in which jobs and the economy can flourish.”