Last week, the House of Representatives passed an operating “budget” for the 2015-17 biennium. Unfortunately, the budget relies on $1.5 billion of new taxes, which the House did not pass, meaning the budget is unbalanced by $1.5 billion. This article from the Auburn Reporter explains why I voted against the budget:
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted last Thursday on the 2015-17 operating budget proposed by House Democrats. Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, voted against the proposal because it relies on $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes in order to balance.
“The reality is, revenue collections will already increase by more than $3 billion over the next two years due to economic growth in the state. In fact, the state constitution considers us to be in a period of ‘extraordinary growth,'” Stokesbary said. “Given this extraordinary growth, I believe state government should prioritize spending before asking hard-working taxpayers for even more money. I agree that we need to make substantial investments in K-12 education, higher education, and services for the most vulnerable, but that this can be accomplished without new taxes.”
Stokesbary delivered a speech on the House floor during the budget debate. He noted many of the proposed taxes, like new taxes on online purchases, bottled water, small businesses and home purchases, would directly impact middle class citizens. He also discussed the irresponsible reliance on potentially unconstitutional taxes to fund education spending.
Stokesbary is reviewing the budget for unnecessary spending in order to divert those funds into K-12 education.
“I am continuing to review the budget to find areas in which we could make cuts to non-essential programs in order to put that money back into K-12 education,” said Stokesbary. “As part of that process, I have already identified an additional $55 million in non-essential spending that could be invested in meeting the McCleary ruling. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate on including these cost-saving cuts in the final budget. Because of historic revenue collections, I believe we can adjourn on time and avoid going into a costly – and unnecessary – special session.”
The 2015 regular session is scheduled to adjourn on April 26.