A lot of talk has been going on about what will happen with the budget. I’m sorry to say the Senate Republicans have refused our efforts to negotiate and have been blaming us in the press. While claiming they want to negotiate, they refuse to consider our proposals and instead want to cut tens of millions out of the State Need Grant, raid the marijuana prevention and education funding setup by I-502, and pass a major property tax increase.
The House Democrats’ budget aligns our shared values and makes real investments in the future of our economy and the well-being of our children, families, and communities. With this budget, we are supporting an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.
Our plan does a lot. It increases funding for K-12 education by 21%, adding in all-day kindergarten statewide, reduces class sizes for K-3, and provides funding for important everyday tools like textbooks, classroom supplies, and general school operating costs. We’re also investing in college-readiness programs, and giving our hard working teachers and school employees a LONG overdue cost of living increase.
We’re also investing in early learning opportunities and child care. And, we’re freezing college tuition while increasing the funding for the State Need Grant so both middle class and low income students have the chance at a college education.
Finally, we’re putting much needed funding into our mental health and social safety net programs. Everyone deserves dignity and respect, and unfortunately our current mental health system is leaving too many people with mental illnesses in prisons, in emergency rooms or on the streets, because there is no room at our mental health facilities. By funding more beds in community mental health facilities and state hospitals, we can make sure that people are getting the treatment they need.
To me, the choice is clear: We must fund a budget that is responsible and meets both our constitutional and moral obligations. A budget is a values statement about who we are and what we believe in. If we simply cut, cut, cut and leave those with the most need behind, we are failing. But if we choose to move forward together and make investments in our future, we will have a stronger, healthier, and happier Washington for everyone.