Washington State House Democrats


House approves two-year budget, invests billions in education

 OLYMPIA – The House of Representatives approved a two-year operating budget today that invests an additional $3.2 billion in K-12 education and makes significant investments in early learning, higher education, and the safety net. The House proposal takes a significant step forward in solving the state’s budget challenges after several years of cuts.

“We can either step up to the challenge, or lose the opportunity to help middle-class families that have suffered from seven years of cuts to services they depend on,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (D-Covington). “I’m willing to step up to that challenge, and I’m willing to vote for a budget that gives people hope across this state.”

The House budget proposal is the only budget proposal being debated in Olympia that puts the state in full compliance with the Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling to fully fund basic education by using sustainable and reliable revenue sources. It allocates $1.4 billion toward new K-12 education investments that comply with the McCleary decision.

“This budget invests in closing that pernicious opportunity gap in our state,” said Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-Seattle). “This is the budget that we can all be proud of.”

The additional $3.2 billion for K-12 education will go toward reducing K-3 class sizes, all-day kindergarten, materials and supplies, and counselors to help get students career and college ready. It also restores cost-of-living adjustments for K-12 employees, which have been suspended for the last six years to help balance the state budget.

The House budget invests an additional $227 million in high quality early learning expansion across the state.

“Half of our kids enter into kindergarten behind,” said Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-Seattle). “They don’t have the skills to be successful and most of those kids never catch up. Our obligation is to get those kids ready to succeed. This budget makes the biggest investment in early learning our state has ever made. It’s the best investment we can make.”

The House budget also includes nearly $100 million in new mental health capacity to ensure that people get the help they need in their time of crisis.

“The cuts that the Legislature made to our safety net are both morally reprehensible and unconstitutional. We’re fixing those items,” said Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina), House Appropriations Chair. “This budget is a step forward to reinvesting in the future of Washington state.”

“Mental health struggles can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time,” said Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma). “Because of years of cuts to services like mental health care and a no-new-taxes approach to budgeting, we have been unable to help. This budget has renewed my faith in the commitment we made to the people of the state of Washington.”

Budget leaders from the House and Senate are expected to begin negotiations soon. The 105-day legislative session is scheduled to end on April 26.

Additional budget information can be found here.