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Inslee proposes tapping state reserves to pay for education funding

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday his budget proposal to tap into the state's reserves to pay for much of the extra $1 billion the state Supreme Court wants to use to fully fund education. (KOMO News) 

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Gov. Jay Inslee surprised his opponents by not calling for a capital gains tax to help fund education. The governor instead says there is enough in the state's reserves to handle it.

"Our students and teachers are counting on us to deliver this this year and we can do it now," said Inslee surrounded by education leaders Thursday. He announced his budget proposal to tap into the state's reserves to pay for much of the extra $1 billion the state Supreme Court wants to use to fully fund education.

"Now we have to have a crowning achievement on that, the cherry on the sundae," Inslee said referring to the money already set aside for education from the last legislative session.

Inslee also proposed a new source of income to come from industrial companies paying a pollution fee; a carbon payment.

"I think there's every reason to be confident we're going to get this job done," he said. "We have a reasonable way to do that. It involves using reserves. And it also skins another cat, which is to fight climate change and that's a good idea."

"This budget takes the final step in our duty to amply fund basic education and makes smart, targeted investments in programs that lift Washingtonians up," Senator Christine Rolfes, D-Banbridge Island said.

Republicans are lining up against the governor's proposals.

"I'm not in favor of either one of those," said Senator Curtis King, R-Yakima.

Republicans say it's not wise to raid the reserves and they say what amounts to a carbon tax will hurt the economy.

"To put that kind of an onus on business, which is where most of that is going to end up or on a car owner, to me is the wrong way to go," King said.

"My main concern is with aspects of how Governor Inslee balances the budget," said Senator John Braun, R-Centralia. "Especially with the carbon tax and its impacts on Washington businesses and citizens, and the proposed tapping of the state's 'Rainy Day Fund.' "

But Republicans like that Inslee abandoned his idea of a tax on capital gains.

"I think that's a good thing. Capital gains provides investment for our economy and for our businesses. We need that," King said.

The governor says along with this supplemental budget he wants lawmakers to immediately pass a capital budget when they get back in session. It represents $4.5 billion in school and other state construction. It is a budget that stalled last session.

"I'm calling on them to do their job, which is to pass a capital budget," Inslee said.

Lawmakers reconvene January 8. The House and Senate can endorse them or come up with their own solutions.

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