Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's July! The sun is out, and it looks like another sensational Pacific Northwest summer is in store for us. I hope you and your families have the opportunity to get out there and enjoy everything our great state has to offer!
The Legislature has been hard at work, since the regular session ended in April, negotiating an operating budget that benefits the entire state. I know it's frustrating that we came down to the final hours of this fiscal year to complete the task. However, our undertaking was not to be taken lightly, as we finished the necessary work to fully fund our state's education system. Here are some highlights of important issues we've been working on during our special sessions.
Budget breakdown | McCleary
Let's start with a small breakdown of the McCleary education-funding piece, House Bill 2242. I voted 'yes' on this legislation. It's a solution that provides ample basic education funding and equity for students, teachers and citizens, while ensuring fiscal accountability. This plan also:
- Fully funds the state's program of basic education, including market rate salaries for K-12 staff, ensuring our school districts can recruit and retain high-quality staff by increasing state funded compensation by $6 billion over the next four years.
- Encourages school districts to provide robust career and technical education (CTE) opportunities through increased CTE funding.
- Provides an annual automatic COLA.
- Remedies the regressive local levy system by capping local levy rates to provide tax relief to taxpayers in property-poor districts.
- Maintains local effort assistance to assist property-poor school districts in providing the same enrichment opportunities as students in property-wealthy districts.
- Protects the state, school districts, and taxpayers by establishing robust accounting and reporting mechanisms, and by preventing disruption to student education.
Budget breakdown | Operating budget
I also voted 'yes' on the 2017-2019 operating budget. Here are some key reasons why I supported this budget.
- After decades of adding more programs, growing the size of state government and ignoring our education obligations, the Legislature has finally turned the state's “paramount duty” into our number one priority. K-12 education spending is now more than 50 percent of the operating budget for the first time since the early 1980's.
- We successfully fought against the regressive and economically damaging tax increases Democrats and the governor wanted and ended up with a more fair and equitable tax system for the citizens of Washington state.
- This budget keeps the promise we've made to our most vulnerable by investing heavily in much-needed reforms and increasing services for our mental health and foster care system.
If you have any specific questions on the budget, and how it directly affects you, please reach out to my office at (360) 786-7824, or email me.
Stay tuned for more information on the Hirst decision and the Capital budget! We aren't quite finished with business yet …
It's an honor to serve you.