Leading lawmakers from the House and Senate united today behind a budget compromise that makes increased investments in education without shredding the safety net.
“We’ve been meeting every day and working hard, in good faith,” said Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (D-Covington). “To finish our work and avoid a Washington D.C.-style shutdown of state government, it’s time to start voting. This proposal is a significant compromise”
The base proposal adds a minimum of $704 million to our state’s K-12 schools and $93 million to our higher education system.
“Our hope in January was a bold investment in education,” said Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina), chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “This budget is a down payment – not as much as we’d like, or we passed out of the House – but it does allow us to move forward in reducing class size, investing in all-day kindergarten, and supporting college students.”
“This compromise is a modest budget, but it’s also a budget that does not harm,” said Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam), the ranking member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “It represents real progress on McCleary, too. This budget is pretty darn close to what I had in mind three months ago.”
Lawmakers also introduced a companion measure, the Education Investment Act (House Bill 2048), that would redirect another $255 million into the Education Legacy Trust Fund by closing tax breaks.
“Our state has 640 tax exemptions on the books,” said Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), chair of the Finance Committee. “Some work to create jobs and some don’t. But what we do know for certain is that closing 1% of them to invest in 1 million kids is the right choice.”
“This budget addresses a key concern of Senate Republicans,” said Sen. Sharon Nelson (D- Maury Island), the assistant ranking member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “It provides a tax cut for over 144,000 service businesses and breweries. At the same time, it’s a budget that upholds our Democratic values and our values as a state, and makes much-needed investments in our state’s future.”
Both measures will be considered by the House Appropriations Committee in a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. today in Hearing Room A in the John L. O’Brien Building.