Rep. Jim Walsh introduces bill that seeks to put limits on state spending

Rep. Jim Walsh has filed a bill that seeks to re-establish the rational state government spending limits applied during Washington state's years of its greatest economic expansion. Walsh has been joined by six of his House colleagues who have signed on to co-sponsor House Bill 1999.

“Our state doesn't just have a tax problem. It has a spending problem,” said Walsh, R-Aberdeen. “House Bill 1999 resolves this problem by bringing back a good public policy that Washington should never have abandoned: reasonable and rational state government expenditure limits.”

Washington's state government spending has exploded over the last decade. Spending has increased by 74 percent since 2013 and nearly doubled since 2011.

Walsh's bill would put the same budgeting guidelines in place used during the economic boom in the 1990s.

“The 1990s was arguably the greatest time of economic growth in Washington state history,” noted Walsh. “Aerospace was booming. Natural resources industries were still thriving. And the tech sector was just starting to mature. Wealth was being created here. And, by law that the people made, the state government was fiscally disciplined. We need to get back to that, and my bill would help get us there.”

A key excerpt of Walsh's bill includes limiting state spending in any fiscal year by the previous year's budget, increased only by the fiscal growth factor ― which is a sum of the averages of inflation and population change over the previous three fiscal years.

Walsh says this limit will be familiar to many Washingtonians. It's based on a central element of the state budget system set in place by the voter approval of Initiative 601 in 1993. That system — which included effective spending limits — was eventually ruled unconstitutional because of tax-policy elements separate from the spending limits.

“Our state is at a point of great economic uncertainty. For the first time in two generations, Washingtonians believe we're heading in the wrong direction economically. Bad policies and poor management have gummed up our great economic engine. House Bill 1999 puts Olympia back on a fiscal diet. It's a critical part of getting Washington back into good financial shape,” concluded Walsh.

House Bill 1999 has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee, where it waits for a hearing.

The 60-day legislative session began Jan. 10 and will continue through March 10.


Washington State House Republican Communications